Thursday, November 3, 2011

TaeKwonDo Times Traditions Column by Master Doug Cook-November, 2011

The Promotion Process
Approaching a Belt Test with Enthusiasm and Passion

Six months ago, I had the supreme honor of testing for my 6th dan black belt at an examination officiated by martial arts legend, Grandmaster Richard Chun. Looking back, the first time I stumbled into Kwanjangnim’s world was as a newly-minted yellow belt when I first read his always inspiring book Tae Kwon Do: The Korean Martial Art. Since then, I have trained under this man and his instructors for many, many years. And so, it was a distinct privilege to perform before him on a pleasant, spring day last June.
I have always been excited about the prospect of testing. I approach these events, now long in between, with great anticipation and when the welcomed day finally arrives, I do my utmost to exhibit enthusiasm, precise technique and authentic martial spirit. I always treat the process as a celebration of my hard-earned skills rather than with the apparent stress that characterizes a typical test in its truest sense.
Still, not everyone agrees with this outlook. Many view a belt test, especially impatient parents, as an imposition of significant proportions. Why not simply present the student with a new belt during class when the instructor deems them ready? Why consume four or five hours out of a weekend, usually four times a year, when the average individual can barely find the time to attend weekly classes? Naturally, there are pros and cons to any process of this nature. Yet, depending on how the event is administrated, to most students of the traditional martial arts, the benefits far outweigh any inconveniences that might materialize.
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