In August, the boys tested for their next belts in tae kwon do. At our school, the kids can earn an intermediate striped belt in between the solid colored belts. Mason was testing for his blue belt with a purple stripe and Daniel was testing for his orange belt with a green stripe. They prepare 4-6 months for each belt test, so it's a big deal when it is time to test.
One thing I love about our school is that the owner, Master Martin, really cares that the students know their skills. He will not even allow a student to test if he isn't prepared, unlike other places that simply promote on a schedule, whether you know anything or not. Master Martin wants his students to be able to walk into any dojang in the world and be proficient at their belt level, which is the way it ought to be. There are far too many unethical places out there that are just in it for the money and don't care that the students are really mastering the skills. I'm so glad Master Martin has a different philosophy!
The tests work like this: the kids wear their full uniform. They warm up, and then the test starts right on time.
|Warm up time|
|More warm ups!|
|Hand motions - that's Mason up in the front, blue belt.|
|Hand motions, Daniel is in the middle, orange belt.|
|More punches! They also demonstrate the "turn arounds" for each move, which differs depending on the skill.|
|I think this is called reverse knife hand strike, but I could be wrong.|
The instructor calls out the kicks. The kids must kiyi at the right places and have the technique mastered for each different kick. By now, they are starting to get tired. Kicks are tiring. Kids testing for darker belts are also required to do some kick combinations, which the instructor will call out. I'm always so impressed with how they can remember the sequence and do it - pretty cool.
After kicks, we move on to forms. Forms are standard choreographed sequences of attack and defense moves. Each belt level has a corresponding form that is learned. By this point, Mason knows 4 forms and is learning the fifth. For his test, he had to do the first half of the 5th form. Daniel had to do the first half of the third form. I have videos of these, but they don't load very well!
After forms, the kids each have an opportunity to break a board using the kick that corresponds with their belt level. I think Mason's kick was a spin-back side kick, which is pretty challenging. I think Daniel's was a Korean sidekick, but I am not sure! I also took video of that, so no still shots. Some kids break their board, and some kids don't, but it doesn't affect whether you pass the test. The instructors are looking to see that the technique is proper - that is the key.
Mason is getting more advanced, so he also did what is called two-step sparring, where he partnered with another student to demonstrate specific defensive techniques. He was so amazing!
Finally, the test was complete! The whole things takes about an hour at this level. The kids all did a good job and were pretty tired. Like I said, Master Martin will not let a student test if he or she is not ready, so it is really rare to fail a test (although I know it does happen occasionally). It is more common to be told you have to wait to test, because you are not ready. That definitely happens.
|Daniel shaking hands with Master Martin!|
|Tying on the new belt, with a little help.|
|Mason shaking hands with Master Ruff.|
|Mason shaking hands with Master Martin|
|Happy boys! And look - Mason broke his board! He was so proud. So was I!|
|Mason and Daniel with Master Ruff (L) and Master Martin (R).|
Good job, boys! You earned those belts.