The Belt Test

The last time I wrote about Taekwondo, I mentioned that at the last belt test it took Spencer not one, not two, but THREE tries to test for his belt. Sigh. I don't understand how you could be so stubborn about a sport you love so much Spencer, but at least you keep my days interesting. Well, it was belt test time again earlier this month. I thought for sure he wouldn't be asked to test, but I was wrong. Here's the funny thing: As difficult and trying as he can be during class (and before... and after...), he knows his stuff. And he's good. And he's ready for more challenges. So... they asked him to test. (And Mama almost cried because it was the day after we made it through the competition and I thought I should have one worry-free day.)

So, we signed him up and just hoped for the best. Which, for us, involved no tears and no running off the mats. Now... while we did have a tear or two and one last ditch effort to run off the mats and boycott testing... he surprised us all by bringing his best. And testing!

In the weeks leading up to testing, as well as mere minutes before, Spencer would declare "Well, I'm not gonna test! I don't want a green belt! I don't want to be on demo team!" And we kept saying "Oh, yes you will! Oh yes you do! OK, don't be on demo team... but you are still testing!" When we walked into the dojang, Spencer started by showing off his special guest to everyone... Aunt Neen! (Who even got a shout-out during testing by the Grand Master!) After that, he spent some time hobnobbing and helping the Master set up. Before we knew it, it was time to go onto the mat and warm up. Which is when Spencer made a mad dash for the door. A quick pow-wow in the back with myself, Spencer, Daddy, and the Master resulted in nothing but frustration.

Then the Master pulled out his secret weapon. The dodgeball. Spencer is obsessed with dodgeball. He asks at the end of every class if there is time to play. So, as soon as he saw that, he was on the mats and at attention. It was really somewhat brilliant of Master. He worked the warm-up into the dodgeball game, while also getting in some last minute practice on the elements that were to be tested for all the students. By the end of the game, all the students were pumped and all but one were ready to test. Any guesses who that "one" was?! Yup, that was our Spencer who made yet another mad dash off the mats with a quivering lip. But... When you go to a state competition and win a gold medal that no one was expecting, your Grand Master isn't as willing to let you boycott testing. So he too came off the mats and with an assurance of "It's ok," and "You have nothing to worry about," he picked Spencer up and carried him on.

And, as the saying goes, the rest was history. The switch flipped, he focused, he tested, he nailed it... He earned a green belt. And immediately turned to me and said "Look Mama! I'm a green belt! I'm going to be on demo team now!" And in case you are wondering, why yes... my jaw did drop to the ground and I thought "Are you kidding me?!" My boy... he's good at always bringing the drama.

Now... without further ado. The photos.

{Aunt Neen and Spencer... pre-test}

{Just a little prodding necessary.}

{Attention Stance}

{Basic Motions. Spencer is in front left.}

{Kicking Combination... Front Kick, Roundhouse Kick, Back Kick Combo}

{Self Defense... aka the one where the Master almost got it in the face since Spencer was "no holding back."}

{One Step Sparring}

{One Step Sparring}

{Waiting patiently and attentively.}

{Focusing and visualizing the break... a back kick.}

{And he gets it! On the first try!}

{Untying the old...}

{Waiting}

{Grand Master ties the old belt around the wrists}

{And Master ties the new belt...} A side story. The Master and Spencer have grown close over the past few months, especially with all the preparation for competition. They have several sounds and words that are for their use and entertainment during class and training. (It's almost like a secret language.) Here, they are sharing what we all call a "Hooooooo!" moment. It's hysterical.

{Checking out the new belt...}

{Proud.}

{Applauding themselves.}

And there you have it. A green belt. With waaaaayyyy less drama than the last belt test. Thank goodness!