I took my second belt test on December 15, 2011. Belt testing was a little different this time around. There was a slight mixup with the testing schedule and so belt testing for Hapkido students was carried out during their regularly scheduled class time. I was very nervous when I arrived at Equa Do so Master Markus hung out with me and kept me calm until Erin and Sensei arrived. Erin and Sensei went with me to buy dinner and when we returned, they managed to get me to drink a small cup of soup.
As soon as I was finished it was time for testing to begin. I bowed in, and headed to the corner in which we usually train. I warmed up in the usual way with fifty jumping jacks and plenty of stretching. Then Sensei asked me to come over to the heavy punching bags and demonstrate my strikes. We quickly realized the angle that I was forced to be at because the base of the bag is solid and won't allow me to get close enough, did not work. So instead Sensei put on hand pads and had me demo that way. I was asked to demonstrate: vertical punches, horizontal punches, hook, uppercut, ox jaw strike, backfist, elbow strike, palm strike, knife hand, ridge hand, panther's paw, and thumb gouge. Sensei then set a striking bag on a stool and had me show him tiger's maw, tiger's claw, and eagle's beak.
Then Sensei and Erin demonstrated some techniques for me to replicate. Techniques included were: wrist locks, chokes, brush trap strike, and each of these main techniques combined with a series of strikes aimed at subduing an attacker. After that, Sensei asked to see my cane work. I was asked to demonstrate my eight point strike and some unsequenced strikes at spots on a bag, then expected to defend against unarmed strikes, large shield type objects represented by a large hand pad, a knife, and two sticks similar to the ones used in escrima.
Sensei then had me demonstrate my proficiency in crutch work. He used the large hand pad as a target, holding it vertically on the ground and having me strike where vulnerable points would be. He also tested my knowledge on striking unarmed when necessary while on my crutches, and vulnerability points on the upper body. This section of the test also ended with a short sparring bout. Then we moved to using the crutches while prone. Blocks, strikes, and brush trap strike were all tested.
I was originally told I would not be doing knife work for my test, however Sensei handed me a knife as soon as I was back in my chair. He tested me on my eight point knife sequence, as well as the dagger grip, reverse grip, and standard grip. Then we began sparring, with Sensei armed with a knife as well. The aim was to disarm him if possible or simulate cutting him in ways that would cause him injury and prevent further attack. We sparred for a few moments and then Sensei called a halt, saying I had done very well.
The final portion of my test was verbal question and answer, just as it had been for my white belt test. The questions and answers were as follows.
Why do we study martial arts?
To learn and to grow
What is the duty of a martial artist?
To protect and teach others
What responsibility does a martial artist have toward their community?
To be the everyday hero, so to speak, and help where needed as well as setting a good example for others.
When do we use our gift?
Only in times of great need.
Then Master Eric came over and asked a few questions of his own.
So I hear a rumor you would like to begin to help teach?
Because I believe true knowledge is demonstrated in the ability to pass what one has learned on to others and have it be understood.
So you believe you have something to offer the world?
How far do you wish to take this journey?
As far as I can.
He smiled, and asked Sensei how I had done on the various aspects of my test. Sensei said I had done extremely well on all of it, including on material that I had not yet formally studied, and also that he would like to give me an extra credit opportunity. Master Eric agreed.
That's when a full sized wooden board was held in front of me, for me to break. Though I have broken boards before, they have only been about half the size. That said however, they are made of the same material. Even knowing all this, I found myself unable to break the board, no matter if Sensei or Master Eric was holding it. My hand became swollen and bruised after repeated attempts. It was finally Master Eric who came up with a solution. He pointed out that boards of that size are usually laid across cinder blocks and the person attempting the break will use the downward force of their strike to break the board. There was a bit of an issue finding enough cinder blocks to elevate the board to my striking height in my chair, but after a few minutes I was ready to attempt the break again. Apparently, Master Eric wanted a picture of me breaking the board. Unfortunately he didn't exactly warn me, and so as soon as he stepped back from setting the board I smashed through it with a hammer strike.
Everyone signed the board as usual, and when I walked over to receive congratulations from another student, Heidi, it became clear that Miss Linda wished to test me as well. Within seconds she was behind me and had me in a chokehold. I quickly wrenched her arms away from my neck and attempted to put her in a wristlock but she reversed it at the last moment, and I found myself in a wristlock. I twisted free and actually used my body weight to throw myself back into her and catch her off guard. Then I pushed one of her arms away and brought my chair around to the side, striking her ribs and working my other wrist free before putting distance between myself and her, ending the sparring match with another victory. Sensei, Erin, Master Eric, Miss Linda, and her students Heidi and Terri were pleased and surprised to say the least. Finally, I was allowed to bow out but not before the determination was made with regard to my test.
Master Eric and Sensei took me aside and told me...
I DID IT! I PASSED MY TEST AND ALSO SKIPPED THE YELLOW RANKING, MEANING I AM AN ORANGE BELT!
PS: Attached to this blog are pictures of the board I broke during my test.