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.
*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.
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.
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.