I passed the last of my color belt tests today. It’s hard to believe I’m looking at the edge of Black Belt. When my husband and I started this journey five years ago, I thought it would be tough but fast. I had so much energy and enthusiasm then. We spent more rides home from taekwondo class talking about how quickly we could test for the next belt, calculating the time to our black belt test, and speculating over whether we’d manage to pass our son, who’d started six months earlier than us, than I can count.
Middle age crept up on us when we were too busy feeling Young to notice our bodies weren’t twenty-two any longer. Knee trouble, broken toes, spinal disc trouble, business, life, perimenopause, death, and countless other challenges arose to knock some sense into our heads. Training has progressed, just not at the pace we’d planned.
From where I stand today, White Belt seems an eternity ago. When I watch the White Belts at testing, so nervous and unsure, I remember how that felt. Most of the kids and adults just starting out look considerably more coordinated than I was back then. It takes a lot to get out on that floor in front of everyone and try to make your limbs do what they’re supposed to do. Some of us are a lot less…talented, shall we say, than others. I happen to be in the less talented camp. My guys are in the camp with talent and skills. Most of the time, my man’s slowing his pace while I’m scrambling just to keep up. It’s really embarrassing, truth be told.
Getting over the sheer embarrassment of being so bad at something took a lot of humility and perseverance. For five years now, taekwondo has been the single, most challenging learning opportunity I’ve faced. I try not to let it show, but even now I have days when I’m fairly certain they’ll realize just how unskilled I am and bounce me back to white belt.
Still, I keep at it. There’s nothing like the thrill of slicing through a board with a perfect side kick or throwing my partner to the floor during a test. Moving through a form with grace, that’s a feeling akin to the ecstasy of deep meditation. Even sparring can leave me completely elated and peaceful at the same time. Those moments are savory enough to keep me at it despite the challenge.
So, here I am, a Recommended Black Belt. It’s taken a lot to get here, and somehow it feels more poignant than I expected. As I prepare for my black belt test over the upcoming months, I hope the rest of my life cooperates. Even if it doesn’t, I know I have what it takes to keep at it. Black belt, Here I Come.