The black belt test encompasses everything I have learned in my training to this point so there's A LOT to review and the graded part (Friday night) takes several hours because of this. While they change the order from year to year this is what we'll be doing:
Forms (Hyungs)- everything from our most basic to our most advanced, a total of 16 forms altogether. I've also been told that I will be asked to do a solo performance of my open tournament form. I feel more confident about my ability to perform these at a high level than I do anything else in my test which is a good thing since they're the forte of our school overall.
Breaking- tracing back to the martial history of the sport and demonstrating the force it would take to break through wooden armor. You have to do three stations, one of which is a required break (i.e. they pick it). Mine are a straight down punch through one board in the form Lo Hai (the required break), an elbow strike, hammer fist and then back kick in sequence (each through one board) and then my 360 degree spinning back kick through two boards (which I finally got through last class in practice so there's no reason I can't rock it in the test).
One steps- a series of combination techniques involving our basic punches and kicks in a specific sequence performed on another person so we can show that we know where to place each technique. There's 18 of them altogether.
Self- Defense- a series of Aikido techniques designed to help one reverse various grab attacks- either opposite hand, same hand or two handed grabs. We have to do a total of 12 for 3rd Dan (by 4th Dan I think we'll need up to 16).
Knife defense- techniques designed to defend against three types of attacks- a straight-in stab, a single slash or a double slash. There's a total of six techniques that we do first in sequence and then at random as the attacker switches up their attacks and we have to read their movement and respond to them. (No, we don't use real knives. But yes, not knowing what the other person is going to throw at you does make it a heck of a lot harder!)
Kicking- We go through every single one of our kicks from the most basic to the most advanced. I feel pretty good about my basic and jumping kicks, but my jump spinning kicks are probably the weakest of my entire inventory. Hopefully that won't bring down my overall grade too much.
Two-on-one fighting: Two people try to attack you, your goal is to avoid getting stuck in the middle. Relatively self-explanatory.
Terminology- they call out techniques in Korean and we perform them. Requires memorization (so you know what each command is) and performance at a high level. I feel fine about this part since it hasn't changed since the last test.
And finally, history: they give us a verbal exam on the history of Tang Soo Do with questions ranging from describing the characteristics of each of the four colored belts in the original belt system to listing the principles of Tang Soo Do to counting to ten in either Chinese or Korean. (Arguably the easiest part of the test since all it requires is for you to memorize a few pages of information.)
We are allowed to fail one portion of our test and still pass overall. Most people fail by not getting all of their breaks. I've never known anyone to fail kicking, forms or terminology. My hope is obviously to pass every section with flying colors.
Nothing is graded, nothing is judged, all we have to do is not quit. They'll lead us through hours of grueling, physically taxing exercises which we have to complete. Push ups till your arms give out. Jumping jacks till your legs stop working. Sparring 20 people in a row- stuff like that. Our bodies will tell us "You're done. You can't do this anymore. It's too hard/ hurts too much. You don't have anything left." And our brains will say "Shut up and go." And that's the entire point- mind over matter.
Why do they do this? Because in real life you have no control over the conditions in which you face an attacker. Whether or not you've had any sleep, whether or not you've stretched, whether or not you're in any kind of condition to be defending yourself- but you still have to defend yourself. So in the test when you haven't had any sleep and you're sore and exhausted and physically just done you still have to spar- same rules apply.
And while I hope that I never find myself in a situation where I need to use anything that I've ever learned I still have the knowledge that I got through the tests. It's an experience unlike anything I've ever been through and at the end of it I am more proud myself than I have ever been. And no one- ever- can take that away from me. And at the end of this test- my hardest test- I suspect that I will feel better than I ever, ever have. Because I'm going to kick ass!
Wish me luck!
This has been part of the Celebrate the Small Things bloghop.
Thanks to our host Viklit and co-hosts Diana Wilder, L.G. Keltner, Cyborg Mom and CaffeMaggieato!