Hapkido testing June 2006

Today, I got my first award in Hapkido!!! Actually, I don't know what the award was for. It may well have been a regular certificate to confirm belt promotion which they commonly handout here, but as only a few of us got given the certificate today, I would like to hope it is some type of award! I would like to believe that I did some outstanding remarkable feat. But, I don't think so. One year on, and my test consisted of 2 forward rolls, 2 falls, 2 self-defence moves and a bow (as in bow-wow). Not overly demanding.

I awarded myself a psychological prize in that I didn't get nervous during the test. That was despite having some 200 family members of all the students sitting in the room, and myself, entering to gasps of 'foreigner! foreigner!' Although, the calls were not nearly as extreme as down in Daegu City. In Daegu, foreigners are treated like aliens. I hope I can feel so calm when the day of my black belt test comes. And, if that test should be as simple as today's, then I can be confident of passing all the gradings. I know I can already do all the moves of all the existing black belts except for a back flip and jumping over someone standing at head height. I have 12 months to work on those missing skills. But, really, why I felt so confident on this occasion is surely to do with the past few weeks of training at the Taekwondo class. The training there has been SO HARD, but I've handled it. Consequently, I knew that in this Hapkido test, whatever they threw at me, it wasn't going to be even 10% as difficult as what I've been doing in Taekwondo class.

There were lots of amusing but tragic moments for me, as I got parents telling their kids to approach me and practice their English. One little boy came up to me and shouted 'You're a bloody foreigner!' to which I pretended 'No, I'm Korean!' He shouts 'You can't fool me! You have white skin!'. I reply, 'Really, I'm Korean.' Other kids catch on to this 'game' and say to the boy 'Yeah, she's really Korean.' The little boy then flips out, beside himself in uncontrolled rage, screaming 'Am I stupid?!! Do you all think I'm stupid!!!' He then tries to pinch my skin, yelling 'This is real foreigner skin; look, it's not makeup!!' Oh no...

There was also a demonstration stunt team consisting of some guys who the Hapkido instructor had called in from some place outside. This went horribly wrong. They were supposed to do a fight sequence with some flashy kicks and falls. At the end, the five guys were all supposed to feign lying on the floor in agony. Anyway, one of the guys doesn't actually get to his feet when it's all over. Everyone starts laughing, thinking he's making a joke out of the scene. Then, his team mates decide to pull him up. He's barely conscious, and his leg is just hanging awkwardly lame at an odd angle... Shivers... I looked at the reaction of all the onlookers. The kids were all quite passe about it, and the family members didn't seem too bothered. The lame guy was carried off into the office and an ambulance was called. I think it went wrong when one of the team was supposed to hit the guy in the shin with a bamboo sword which is used for gumdo practice. I think he hit a bit too hard...

Nearly as shocking was the next round of action - the parent's breaking test... I have never seen parents partake in class before, but here they were, suddenly called upon to break pine boards. Non of the parents looked in very good form. Non of them were under 40 years old. But, they came out, guns blazing, to save their kids self-esteem and smashed their way through the blocks. It was about the most convincing breaking I have ever seen the whole time I've been in Korea. Kudos to them! But, I was disappointed that they only called on the fathers and not the mothers. Then, they awarded the parents with customary gifts, and even though I'm not a parent and did no breaking, I for some reason got called up again, and was presented this time with a book voucher - to the value of about 2 pound 50.

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