But as I was learning my white belt form -- the Songahm 1 -- as well as what are called my One Steps, it was all starting to flow well. In fact, I had been practicing every day, including my hour long classes twice a week, and I was starting to get more and more confident that maybe I was ready to test for my first belt.
My instructor was patient and encouraging, and before I knew it I was standing in front of him, his instructor -- Mr. Good, and one of his other peers (another black belt instructor). Of course, even though I had been practicing for months and thought I could successfully execute every move in my sleep, I hadn't counted on the endles butterflies swarming in my stomach and the slight dizziness I was suffering from stress. I want to make one thing clear here. I wasn't nervous that I would screw up and simply look like some dorky girl trying to impress a bunch of black belts. I was worried about messing up and making my dedicated instructor look bad in front of his peers and instructor. I make a fool of myself daily, so that's nothing to fear. But what I don't like to do is let people who believe in me down. And for that I was terrified.
The oral exam was easy:
What does Tae Kwon Do mean?
"The way of the hand and foot, Sir!"
What does Songahm mean?
"Pine Tree Spirit, Sir!"
How many moves are in your form?
"18 to represent the 9 colored belts and the 9 black belts, Sir!"
How many Kihaps in your form?
Where was Tae Kwon Do developed?
"South Korea, Sir!"
Then it was time to show my instructior, his instructor -- Mr. Good, and another black belt instructor my Songahm 1 form. It was all a blur.
I knew I was rushing through it from nerves, and not really concentrating on every move so it would pop and look solid. All I could think was "don't mess up! don't mess up!" And then I was done. I realized I had done some sort of Hong Kong Fooey "Hiiiiyah" instead of the traditional "Kihap" at the end of one of my sidekicks, but I don't know if they noticed, or counted off points for it.
Up next was my One Steps. These are meant to simulate sparring but since I'm a white belt, most students don't spar at that level. This shows that I have the technique down so when I do get to spar, I won't look like a spaz. I did the first two without a hitch. And then the third one came and I forgot a crucial front kick. Not just on the first or second try, but also on the third attempt when my instructor came up to pose as my sparring partner. This is a ROOKIE mistake. Little kids know this move. Heck, I knew this move for months, but I spaced it and felt horrible. That's when it hit. Complete embarassment rushed over me.
I looked at my instructor's face and I could see that he was empathetic. But I felt miserable. I let him down in front of everyone on such an easy task. And of course, the stress, the realization that I didn't impress them all like I invisioned and the mere fact that I screwed up such a basic move hit me, and tears started to roll down my cheek. I didn't make any whimpering cry sounds or expressions, but I could feel hot tears streaming out of the corners of my eyes -- especially when Mr. Good was talking about how every black belt has been in my shoes when they were beginners and so on. I wiped my forehead like I was trying to prevent sweat drops from getting into my eyes, and in turn also wiped away any tears. Not only was I showing that with all my months of one-on-one training that I couldn't perform under pressure something so simple as a white belt test, but I was doing the one thing a girl shouldn't do in a male-dominated sport -- cry!
So I pretended to be really, really sweaty, and kept wiping my face with my hand until the judges said I was done. My instructor wanted to show Mr. Good that I knew some self-defense moves, and so I showed him how to get out of a headlock. He seemed impressed and got up to show me a few more moves. He said that the hardest thing to learn in self defense is how to be violent back. He also pointed out the vulnerable places I could hit my attacker: eyes, nose, throat, groin, top of the foot, shins and so on. So it was good to think of something else besides the test I just botched.
I stayed for the rest of the class to watch and observe the sparring. I figured I should stay to show I was serious in learning more, and not just there for the night to test. I paid my testing fees, signed some forms, and then left when the rest of the students and instructors left.
I'm not sure if I passed the test or not. I was so upset I didn't think to ask. But it made me realize that I better get over my nerves if I want to keep doing a martial art, or there's no sense in wasting my instructor's time.This morning my back is killing me, my nerves are shot and I'm tired as hell. But I'm glad my test is over and I can concentrate on getting better for the next phase.
Even though there's supposed to be a "Week of Patience," my instructor went ahead and told me I passed! Yipee!!!!
He said I was being way to hard on myself and that he was really proud of me. He also said forgetting one move or having to start over is no big deal at all. I guess I didn’t hear Mr. Good last night when he said I only had to know 2 out of the 3 one steps so technically I did fine.
Apparently it will get easier and easier as I get more comfortable.
I can't believe I passed! Whew!