Bouncing Back: From Setbacks to Stripes – A Green Belt Journey

After enduring what felt like an eternity, around a month and a half had passed since my injury. The boot had become my companion, allowing me to walk reasonably well. The doctor’s verdict was simple: if it doesn’t hurt, you’re good to walk on it. It may have been against my doctors wishes, but I took that as good enough to join the line with my class. While I chose to stay clear of any rapid movements, kicks, and sparring, the instructors were supportive, tailoring my training to my modified abilities.

Around two and a half months after the injury, the boot was finally off, but still with a set of limitations. Still, this was progress. I began working on kicks and the form, slowly and cautiously rebuilding muscle memory. Timing was perfect as it was time to earn the stripes indicating readiness for testing. It took a few rounds of practice, but by the final week, I had earned my stripes and was officially “Ready to Test.”

Testing itself had taken on a new format. Due to the growing number of students at the studio, an entire week was dedicated to testing. This change was refreshing, making the process more efficient and less crowded. With a doctor’s appointment at the beginning of the week, I chose the latest possible test date, aiming to give myself ample time to heal and practice.

Monday brought exciting news – the doctor cleared me for normal activity! A sense of liberation filled me on for my test on Thursday when I realized I could move freely again. However, nervousness bubbled within me. Green belt testing involved not just the form and hand techniques but also board-breaking and sparring.

Breaking a board? I felt ready. Sparring? A bit of trepidation set in. While I had performed well in sparring before, the three-month hiatus from physical activity had taken its toll. The day of testing arrived with a class of about eight students. The small size meant no room to hide. The judges observed every move and every response. The class seemed off their game, missing cues and incurring a lot of extra exercises – jumping jacks, sit-ups, and push-ups. Sweat drenched us, and I began to feel like a wobbly jelly.

Last on the list was sparring. By the time it concluded, I was utterly spent. Despite the exhaustion, I felt a surge of pride. This cycle had presented challenges, yet I believed I had performed well, confident that I had earned a passing grade.

Confirmation came two days later. I was awarded the green belt. Moreover, an invitation to the CIT (Certified Instructor Training) program followed. This was a chance to assist lower belt classes, keeping my knowledge fresh and acting as a guide for my kids, and growing personally as a leader.

Reflecting on my first year of practicing Tang Soo Do with my children, it’s been a remarkable journey. Their growth in discipline and confidence has been evident. Personally, I’ve felt more energetic and flexible, except for my healing left leg. We’ve formed new friendships, and the whole experience has been simply joyful.

As we embark on another year, the journey to black belt seems ever closer. Here’s to more milestones, challenges, and growth. TANG SOO!

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