But first, the test. As always, I messed a couple things up because testing makes me nervous, but I recovered quickly and my flubs may have gone unnoticed. Also, I got to do this:
My daughter videoed this for me. I sent it to my mom and then to Sensei noting that I wasn’t too old to proudly show my mommy my board break. He responded:
The girls’ red belts are beautiful. Hopefully I’ll get mine soon. That test requires kicking a board, so… yeah. Hopefully I don’t injure my good foot. But also, whatever. At this point, I no longer care.
I’m a big fan of the book, Never Split the Difference, by former FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss. I geared up to put his principles into practice: I was going to ask Sensei to let me catch up to my girls in Tae Kwon Do, despite my four-month absence and his seemingly strict testing rules.
Asking him to deviate from a system he’s been using for two decades for my sake was a big ask.
I planned my approach. I would start with a “no” question a la Voss, ie: “Would it be impossible for me to get caught up to my girls?”
The idea is, with that wording, he’d likely say, “No,” which is what I wanted.
I had four points, Sensei’s possible counter-points, and my counter to those counters all ready to go, practicing them in my head for several days in advance.
When the night in question came, I prepped my girls to go directly to the van after class, so I could talk to Sensei alone.
My nerves ran high as Sensei and I meandered to the parking lot. I listened patiently as he talked about his parkour gym, finding people to video his jumps so he could analyze his technique, taking videos for others for the same reason, the open gym policy, the hours, the classes, exactly where the gym was located, that it might be near that one rock climbing gym…
Finally, he wound himself down. My heart pounding, I steadied and readied myself for the attack.
“So,” I began. “Do you think it would be possible for me to catch up with my girls?”
Darn it! That was not the “No” answer question I had so carefully prepped!
In keeping with my theme of titling the post “Crazy with a [color] belt” every time I earn a new Tae Kwon Do rank, I’ll just amend this one slightly since it was my daughters, not me. I could say “Not Crazy with a Brown Belt,” but since they’re my children, some of the crazy is bound to have been passed on to them.
A new belt means a belt ceremony, which means: baking something special!
How many of you just cowered a little in fear or internally groaned “Oh no”?
Thank you for knowing me so well.
Since this happened just before Christmas, what better than gingerbread men? And what better still than NINJA gingerbread men? Perfect, right?
Here’s what the ninjabread men look like on the package:
The next class after Taekwondo testing is the belt ceremony. As you can guess, we get our new belts. Then we eat stuff.
I had the “brilliant” idea of making churros tied in the shape of belts. Easy peasy. My daughters helped. It probably would’ve been better had I left them to it and stayed out of the kitchen.
The recipe said something like 1/4 cup of water only.
“That’s not enough water. It’s too brittle. They’re falling apart,” said I, who has little successful baking experience.
So I added more water. Then, since I had more water in the cup, I tossed in the rest, thinking, why not?
Welp, it was no longer brittle. It was an icky sticky mess.
And, OF COURSE, the piping bag broke. One daughter shoved batter through the little pipe piece by hand.
But you know what else works? Cutting off the corner of a Ziplock freezer bag. We eventually got there.
Anyway, the consistency was off, our fingers were a mess, getting the batter to the tip was difficult because it preferred to stick to our hands and the inside of the bag–not where the hole was. So we had to shove it down with our dough-covered fingers. Then get it back off our fingers, shove again, repeat, etc.
We eventually got them out of the bag and tied into knots like martial arts belts. Amazingly, they still sometimes broke despite my excess addition of water.
Then again, it’s not amazing since this is me we’re talking about.
Sensei tried to extricate one part from its “knot,” so, clearly, the desired effect was lost on him. I had to explain that they were belts.
We left some the normal color for the person receiving her orange belt. And for the four new purple belts:
So, not a total loss. I joked with Sensei that I accidentally left the one we burnt black for him at home.
He didn’t laugh. He did eat like three of them, though.
When he was packing up his gear, I tucked another churro into the package of cookies he brought. I thought it was a nice gesture. Hubby thought it looked like I was trying to get rid of them. What do you think?
On December 20th, my three daughters and I tested for our third belt, yellow. We started as white belts, did a super-stressful-because-it-was-the-first-one-ever test for orange, then came the yellow belt test–only slightly less stressful.
When it was my turn, I was eager to get it over with, and grateful that we start with our current form–the part I was most nervous about. After that comes our “back form,” the one we learned prior. When I performed this in an earlier class, “Sensei,” (not actually what we call him) nodded and said, “It’s like breathing, isn’t it?” So I knew I had that one down pat. The third part of the test was demonstrating our mastery of three self defense and three street defense moves. No problems there.
The weird thing was, as I did the more difficult current form, my hands were tingling. “This is odd,” I thought. “My hands sort of feel numb, but not quite. It doesn’t hurt, thankfully, but it’s strange. I wonder why that’s happening. Nerves, probably.” And the next thing I knew, I was done. I did the form without thinking, which means I couldn’t second guess or freak myself out. I smiled inwardly. “Thanks, hands! Well done.”
They were no help at the end of the test, however: the Bowing Out Ceremony.