Apparently, I'm a black belt...

(Photos re. World Poomsae Championships and Korean Open will probably be ready in the 1st week of November, after I finish my camera film at the Hanmadang!)

Unbeknown to me, I am apparently already a Hapkido black belt. I'm not sure when or how it happened, but I suspect it was when I handed over the whooping W250,000 (=US$250) fee with an extra W100,000 month's class fee.

The confusion is really confusing.

Under normal schedule of one belt promotion per month, I should have achieved black belt rank next month. However, as I felt I wasn't of sufficient ability to be promoted that fast, I was planning on attaining the rank perhaps some time early next year. I needed more time to polish my falls and self defense moves. They are okay, but not sharp enough to be worthy of black belt in my opinion. However, all that schedule changed, and I 'had to' take the black belt test this month.

My Korean is not very good, but it's been good enough to communicate with the Hapkido instructor thus far. After discussion about taking the black belt test, I was of the idea that the instructor said the black belt test would be scheduled for the 22nd of October. But last night, when mentioning to the instructor that I didn't think I could be ready to perform the self-defense part of the test to a sufficient level by next Saturday, the instructor simply told me that it didn't matter. I had already 'passed the test' and there was no test on the 22nd, and he didn't know what I was referring to as far as that test date was concerned. Well, I was pretty surprised at all this information which contradicted the schedule I was given for the 22nd. I don't know when and where I was apparently graded, and what on earth was I doing, coming in to train for two hours every day and all through our week long Chuseok vacation for this test I could swear I was told would be on the 22nd???

I simply PAID to pass. Of that, I'm quite sure. So, it's a bit of an anti-climax and I'm not sure how I should continue with the Hapkido class until the year is up. Should I just continue to train my heart out for the next couple of months to try and make up for the gap I feel is missing in truly justifying myself as a Hapkido black belt?

It's not so straightforward to continue the Hapkido on a daily basis for another couple of months, as also I have started a new Taekwondo class - NEW news is that I'm going to take the Taekwondo 2nd Dan test in December! - and have moved into a 'Goshiwon' accommodation (done so in order to compensate for the expense shelled out for the Hapkido black belt), where I can expect just three or four hours of sleep per night because of all the noise and heat in that place. On top of that I have to get up at 6am to go to work. I've survived the first week of this 15 hour training schedule a week, but I don't know how long I can keep such a routine up without something giving. Especially, if I get some serious cold at this stage - many of my students are already sick with the changing of the seasons here - then it could spell disaster.

I apparently have to at least attend some ceremony in November which sees the official handing over of the black belt certificate in front of all the kids' parents. For the price I paid for that piece of paper, I'm expecting that it will be inlaid with gold and diamond trimmings!

So, I'm also back at the Taekwondo gym. I will take the 2nd Dan test at the Kukkiwon (something I just couldn't let pass while I'm still in Korea) in December. I'm not going to Elite Hwarang gym. Their class time of 9pm-11pm is unmanageable when working full-time. Instead, I've found some backstreet basement outfit just 2 minutes walk from my home, called 'Chung Woo' gym. They have an unusually early class time of 5:30, but this fits in fine with my work and Hapkido schedule. The training is also only half as demanding of that of Elite Hwarang, but again, it's more manageable with my schedule. The students in that gym are all black belts, except one or two, but there is a vast difference between their ability and that of the Elite Hwarang students. The Chung Woo students have little technique in their poomsae and seem to wear out pretty quickly. 20 sits ups is the norm. NOT the 200 of Elite Hwarang!

Btw, I the Hapkido black belt is from the International Hapkido Federation.

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