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October 9, 2005

Countdown to 2nd Dan - Revisited

Yesterday, I completed testing for the 2nd Dan requirements. In our system, whenever a Dan test is given. Our federation president typically offers a seminar to help sharpen the skills of the senior instructors and also introduce any nuiances or subtle changes that he may have introduced to some of the hyungs or forms. The day started off in an odd fashion, only because I arrived to the seminar approximately 30min late. This is not good thing for a Dan member, as we usually occupy the first two rows when we line up. Additionally, it also a sign of disrespect to interrupt class once it has begun. Because our school is merciful, and perhaps less militant than others, I wasn't subjected to much embarassment or additional push-ups. I quietly spoke with Saul, bowed me into class and I assumed my position in the last row. Once there was a break in class Grandmaster Kim(GMK) seemed to make it point to walk the back row, and growled,"Why you back here?" He then slapped me on my rump and told me to fall into my proper position, amongst the othe other 1st Dans(prounounced Don like Don Juan). I would later apologize to him in private for arriving to seminar late.

So, now we now begin to perform basics. These are various movements that comprise most of our forms. Essentially, seminar is a 2hr class taught by the President of our Federation and his son, Saul. Seminar is always interesting because you get a chance to meet other members from our Federation who are dispersed throughout the region. Yesterday, I met to practiontioners that came in from Kentucky. I didn't even know that we had affiliated schools in that area. As much as I'm ashamed to say it, I actually spent alot of time in Ky. All job related time of course. The gentleman was actually testing for 8th Dan and he also happened be a person of color, so we naturally were quite pleased to see one another. He openly gave me an invitation to train at his dojang the next time I come to Ky. I will certainly take him up on the invite when I head south again.

We did many focus drills, that is controlled, targeted kicks to the hand of your partner. As an added twist we also did take downs on the concrete floor. That was cool. Obviously, we weren't doing hip throws. We also spent a fair amount of time going through our forms in a very deliberate methodical way. As you progress in our system, it becomes very essential to slow down movements and emphasize power and focus. Once this is point is well understood, you can do your hyungs backwards without hesitation. Yes, we did several forms backwards in previous seminars. Not very easy, I can tell you from experience.

After the seminar ended, the Dan exam commenced after a roughly 15min intermission. All test participants took their written exams, and then lined up according to rank. Luckily for me, there was only one other person testing for 2nd Dan. Actually, I remembered him from my 1st Dan exam last year. Oddly, there were no 1st Gups testing for 1st Dan. Usually, there are at least 4-5 gups testing for their black belts, not so this time. In many cases, these gups require correction and frequent interruptions by the GMK are common place. So, that makes for a very long day. If I may humbly state, my 1st and 2nd Dan testing went well, and I didn't have to receive any additional instruction from GMK. In fact, my testing mate also did equally as well. I believe we got through the exam in record time. We did 1-step and free sparring with good control. I executed my usual flying side kick. It seems that I am asked to execute this technique at every testing, but I have yet to do it perfectly. I suppose this is why we train. The last break was a reverse ridge-hand(Korean -yuk so). No problem with this one either. Hopefully, I'll be able to get some stills and video footage and post it my site in the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the batteries for my digital camera died and I didn't pack an extra set. So, my guest only one shot that I'll add to my photo journal.

Regarding extra instruction by GMK, we had one student who was testing for 3rd Dan, who had to be told of proper etiquette. In fact, he nearly got thrown out of the dojang and had his testing voided. This student asked to be excused because he was feeling nauseus. This occured immediately after free-sparring. So, he ran out, did his business and returned. For whatever, reason he didn't feel the need to recognize GMK, as 'sir'. It was, 'yeah' this and 'yep' that. I've never seen anything quite like it. I believe it may have something to do with the fact that this students' pops is a senior Dan member. I've never seen GMK so angry. He was allowed to complete the test.

Later all of the Dans were reminded of proper etiquette. Never patronize anyone senior to you when sparring, (ie 1st Dan stating to 3rd Dan, "Good kick").

Overall, it was a very satisfying effort. I'm very passionate about the arts, perhaps even more so than technology. That's a tough call. I love them both.

Posted by AG at October 9, 2005 9:08 AM