Monday, March 21, 2011

Two Black Belts

I thought this post would be a bit more joyful than it may be. This weekend was a hard weekend emotionally. Tim and Josiah both got their black belts in Tae Kwon Do (ITF) and I couldn't be prouder of either of them. In fact, I told Josiah that I have never been prouder of him in his whole life, and I truly am. And of Tim as well.

*this photo was taken right after they finished. They got their black belts the next day at grad.

They have both been preparing for this exam for months. Lots of studying, practicing, private lessons, mentoring lessons, teaching and many many classes. Josiah was sure that he would NOT pass and wanted to give up many times! I prayed and prayed that he would pass each step of this exam, mostly for me and my sanity... I did not want to have to do this process with him again in June.

Last weekend, they wrote a two hour test on all of the knowledge they have learned over that past few years. And they both passed.

On Friday, they did their fitness test. They had to run 2.4 km in a certain amount of time. Tim is a runner (although he barely ever runs!) and he took off like a shot and did the first lap in 31 seconds. He finished the 2.4 km in 10:07 minutes. Josiah came in third place, but didn't rank as high because he is younger and needed to run it faster. But he ran faster than all the other kids. They then headed to the Dojang to do sit ups and push ups. Josiah did 91 sit ups in two minutes and Tim did 71. Josiah struggled with his push ups, but in the end they both passed and moved on. They then had to do shield work, where they had to kick the shields 3X for two minutes each time. By this time they were exhausted! They then did all their self-defense and step-sparring.

Picnik collage5

*these photos were taken by my dad

I knew Tim would be fine throughout this process, by as a mother, I worried about Josiah and I think I was just as stressed out as he was. I didn't go to watch any of the testing and wasn't going to go on Saturday to watch the sparring and breaking, but at the last minute I decided to go. I knew Josiah would appreciate me being there, even though it was the hardest thing I have ever had to watch.

In the morning, they had to do 11 patterns. They both did really well.



In the afternoon, they had to do sparring and breaking. For sparring, they did three rounds of two minutes each, fighting with a new black belt each round. They were basically beat up and pushed to their absolute limit, they had to stay on their feet and push through all the pain and emotions (and trust me -- emotions were running high!). This is the part that was bittersweet. This is the part that I cannot get out of my head.

All I could think the entire time was that this is the STUPIDEST THING THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN! I felt sick to my stomach and was on the brink of losing it emotionally. And I was angry that it had to be so extreme. I do understand why they do it, but it still felt like some things were taken too far.

Tim sparred first and because he is a fit adult, they go hard at him. He took a hit to the head (right above his eye) which kind of stunned him and he began to stagger. I could see in his eyes that he was in a zone and focused on just getting through the fights, but they kept checking his eyes and he kept saying he was okay, he was okay. He also took a kick to the kidney and he is now dealing with blood in his kidney and blood clots in his urine which is causing extreme pain. He went and had a CT done. He has a lovely black eye.

Josiah sparred next. This just about killed me. He is only twelve and was put up against adult black belts. His emotions were high and he was crying and very quickly bleeding from his nose and his mouth. He is typically not a bleeder. He kept looking at me. I asked him why and what he was thinking... he said he wanted to see if I was still watching. There was one point they slammed him up against the wall and some fathers than moved in to stand there to stop that from happening again. Another example, in my opinion, of pushing things too far. He persevered through the pain and exhaustion and finished. I could have cried at this point. I knew he made it. Only breaking boards was left and that is a strong suit for him. I knew he had a black belt!

*this photo breaks my heart.


The breaking boards was like a big, happy party. A lot of fun and cheering and excitement. The parents, the team mates, the black belts, everyone has such a camaraderie. They hug each other, give high fives and encourage each other like nothing I have seen in any sport before. Of course, this is right after they beat you up!

My dad came to watch - my parents came up for Lilah's day surgery and to watch the black belt testing - and my dad took many of these photos. They are blurry, but you can see how high Josiah can kick. There was no way, I could even pull a camera out that day, my focus was on Josiah and Tim.

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I have such mixed emotions about the whole process. I hate violence. I hate fighting. Tim is not a fighter, and it is against his nature to hurt someone in anyway. He heals, not hurts. I almost don't know if this is worth it. I have two more boys who want to go through this. But at the same time, I am so proud of them.

Part of the issue is that someone was taken by ambulance that afternoon to the hospital. Tim's testing partner, who he has gone through TKD with these past few years. A father with two small boys. And a wife that I sit and visit with often. I can't say much, except that it is extremely serious and it has put everyone in an state of shock and sadness, including the instructors. If I hadn't seen this happen, I might be feeling totally different right now. Nothing like this has ever happened at this school. But I am hoping - along with many others - that it will bring some changes to how the sparring is done. All I could think on Saturday, was thank God it wasn't Tim or Josiah! And then you feel guilty... but I do think I am traumatized. It is not right for a woman to watch her husband and son get beat up.

Josiah and Tim are exhausted and very sore. This was Josiah when he came home on Saturday night.


Sunday was the graduation and for the black belts it was exciting and yet very mellow.

Picnik collage2

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This is Josiah and Nikki (his best friend at TKD). We have tried not to talk too much about what all is going on in front of the kids.


And my favorite photo at grad... so full of all the emotions that are going on.



Ellie said...

Wow, I had no idea that they did that, the fighting part - yuck. I'm praying for Tim's partner. I hope you will update with how he is - it all sounds very scary.

Your boys have a lot to be proud of and the photos are really good. I love the blur cause parts are nice and crisp so it does show the action in them! I hope someday things will sort out to where you can look back at them in a positive way.

xo ellie

the meaklims said...

Oh good gracious. I am crying just reading this Paige.

I too, cannot handle violence of any nature. In fact, a few weekends ago we ended up in a restaurant with a tv showing some sort of fighting and the stupid tv was right within my eye view. I honestly almost threw up. I ended up having to change sides with Colin. Any kind of violence or fighting makes me physically ill.

Anyway, I'm so proud of them, because even though I think they're crazy!!, that was just a over-the-top, nuts and incredible workout and then the fighting to boot. Holy crap. I don't say that phrase so much, but that was extreme!

I feel terrible for that other man, Tim's partner. Some things in life are just not worth it. Seriously.

I can see why you found it hard to see the positive, especially watching your boy and with him looking at you. I would have..., actually, I don't think I'll say what I would have done! Lol! I'm sure the same thought went through your head too.

I hope your two men feel better soon. Especially Tim, that sounds painful. Ridiculous I say. Maybe I'm just too much of a prissy girl!


Patrick and Christina said...

I also have issues with how hard they push in the martial arts. You are brave to have watched the sparring thing...especially with Josiah looking over at you. Your two men have a lot to be proud of after this "right of passage ceremony". But I do understand how hard it is to watch - brutal really.

I hope they will make some changes to the testing procedure to keep everyone safe. I found my son's TKD school to lack some of the basic Kinesiology training knowledge which lead to a ton of unnecessary injuries and that some of the individual "personalities" entrusted with training took things way too far. Each Dojang is different but I hope they review this accident and make the right changes in this sport.

I didn't catch in our conversation Sunday morning that it was Tim's TDK partner that took an unfortunate blow. I am very sorry and hope he pulls through. We will pray for him too. Also sorry to hear that Tim's suffering from a Kidney contusion. Wishing him a speedy recovery.

Marie said...

Oh my! I would be a basket case! Your men have a lot to be proud of. It sounds ridiculous that someone would get hurt...I hate any fighting, even in hockey! Praying that everyone heals quickly! Martin and the boys just started TaeKwon Do. I'm beginning to wonder if it was a wise choice...

Paige said...

Tim - Well I felt safe in my TKD testing. I knew their goal was to push me past my comfort level to see if I would freeze, run or fight...what will I do on the street if unable to run...freeze, I hope not and I believe I have been given the ability to keep myself alive in a dangerous situation.

We have excellent intructors who train national level atheletes who compete at the world level. They have input from sport physiologist, sport psycology and kinesiologists into how to train and for different age groups and abilities.

@Marie - I don't know what kind of TaeKwon-Do they are training in ITF, WTF...look at the instructors and how they teach and the upper level students and how they act in and out of class. Martial arts has a safety record as good or better than any other sport.

Bonnie Brentnall said...

Ok Paige,
I am almost throwing up. I can't imagine what you were feeling. I have to be honest, all I am thinking is -Is there really any need to take it to that extreme? Sounds just awful! All the boys are in private Kenpo lessons. I hope they won't have to go through this to get their black belts. You poor thing! You must have been beside yourself! I hope Tim and Josiah are healing. Congrats to them both. My thoughts are with the other family. I hope to God he will be ok.

Canada to China and back! said...

I was welling up with tears looking at these pictures and reading the story of events. I can't even imagine watching on the sidelines Paige!

Congrats to Josiah and Tim!

Praying for the Tim's partner and his family, please let us know how he fares!


Marie said...

I told my hubby and boys about your experience...they are still determined to continue...gotta love that spirit! I would love to join them, for fun and to learn self this point I would probalbly fight with little or no impact! LOL!
Tim...I appreciate your perspective. It is very true. As with any sport accidents do happen and it is best to keep things in perspective...other wise the result may be the same as our experience with badminton...all kids must wear goggles, which is rather silly!
We are involved with the GTW Federation which is very similar to ITF with a difference of 7 patterns. Our instructor comes highly recommended. They call themselves Dragan Caoin. The instructor was born in the year of the dragon, and Caoin means gentle, which is a direct reflection of the instructors beliefs. You both have much to be proud of!...and so does Paige! It takes a strong woman to watch her boy get hurt.

The Drinkwaters said...

Ouch....that's all I can say. Hope Tim and Josiah heal up quickly.

Dixie-Lee said...

Congratulations to Tim and Josiah and hope they are recuperating well. I can't imagine what you went through, Paige, taking this all in and how hard it was for you. By reading your blog a person can feel the pride that you have for both of them. Your love shines through for your entire family in each and every photo and blog that you post.

Paul said...

I can why you have mixed emotions about this. It's a huge accomplishment and yet the fighting is obviously so real (more so than I would have thought). That photo of your son opposite an adult black belt is indeed heartwrenching - it really conveys how extreme the situation is.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Tim's partner and his family.

On a final happier note, congratulations to Josiah and Tim. Their discipline in attaining their black belts is remarkable!

Anonymous said...

Ugh, the commenter "Paul" is me.

Monica K.

Danae said...

We’ve been out of town and I’m just catching up…oh my goodness. I was in pain just reading your post. I don’t know how you did it watching in person but good for you. What a source of support you were to your guys.

I had no idea that so much went on during those exams. I thought they broke boards and did a few kicks……wow.

You are one strong & supportive momma and wife.

Hope all are recovering and that Tim’s training partner is doing better.

Congrats to your guys! What an accomplishment.

not-so-typical said...

New reader -- I found you on NHBO and wanted to see your blog.

You are amazing. Your family is beautiful and amazing.

My .02 about TKD. This is ridiculous!

I do support learning self-defense, especially right now. My older sister is a first-degree black belt, and my younger brother (seven) has just started. He is a yellow belt.

The picture of Josiah broke my heart. With the blood-tracks on his face and the stains on his uniform. Ridiculous. Even for the third-degree black belt testing here, the sparring is Not. that. serious. (ESPECIALLY for children)

I am so, so sorry that you all had to go through that. :(

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