Whew! It’s over! And it was so short, all done by 5:30. They got 300 people through that quickly.
On the one hand, I want to write a very detailed post. On the other hand, it was much like last year, so a blow-by-blow isn’t really necessary.
A few things were quite different this year. We only had eleven people testing, and two Sabumnims helping, which made it much less confusing than last year. Unlike last year, Master didn’t have me go down with everyone else for the opening ceremony, which I appreciated.
Last year they gave me no problems over my residency card. This year they wanted me residency card, my passport…one official started asking me detailed questions in really formal Korean (not just formal verb ending, but honorific words) and I was so confused. Master came over just in the nick of time.
I got there earlier than anyone else, and after I changed, I headed outside to start practicing. I didn’t even see Sabumnim the Man until he grabbed my arm. As we were walking outside, some kids said “oooh! Waygookin! Hi!”
Sabumnim the Man had not been introduced to my movie-starness and laughed. I nodded, “I am a movie star,” I said.
Officer and Me
Sparring Buddy and Me
While we were waiting, my sparring partner was freaking out over how nervous and scared she was. I just kept teasing her. “이기겠어요! 죽이겠어요!” I will win. I will kill you! I was trying to make her laugh, and it worked.
When they called us to stand up, I emotionally felt very calm. But as soon as I stood up, I could feel my heart thumping in my ribcage. It was odd. Usually when I’m nervous, my heart beats very fast, and it’s high in my chest. This time it was lower in my chest, slower, deeper. I’ve never felt that before.
Six people were testing for I Dan, and they had us split into a groups of two and four. I was number three. I stood there, faced the judges, and thought, “이기겠어.” Yes, I thought I will win in Korean.
We were called to do Oh Jang and I did my best. No mistakes, and I went slow, at my own pace. A major problem with tests and tourneys for me has been that I’ve rushed. This time I went very slow, aiming for very controlled movements.
They called Koryeo and again, I went slow, at my own pace, as even as possible.
During both forms I had to show very good control because my foot came an inch or so from Sparring Partner’s head. During both forms I also kept eye control exactly as Master said. I didn’t let myself pay attention to what anyone else was doing, I looked where I was supposed to, and when I was facing the judges, I looked at them. I saw both of them looking at me each time.
After the forms ended, I still looked right at the judges. Normally direct eye contact with a superior in Korea is rude. But I wasn’t going to fidget, look nervous, look down…nothing. I was going to look confident. I certainly wasn’t going to break eye contact if the form didn’t require it!
I think the eye contact and slowness of my form may be why they gave me a poomse certificate and medal. The funny thing was, they just nodded, but I didn’t know whom there were nodding at, so I didn’t move until they called my number. I ran up to the desk, told them my name, thanked them.
Last year I said I thought I got the sparring certificate because I was white, but this year, I actually feel like I did do my poomse well. It was a nice feeling.
Then we sparred. This year Sparring Partner did much better than last year. Neither of us got certificates, though after we were completely done, they told Sparring Partner she would also get a certificate (no medal) for poomse. She was excited, she kept grabbing me.
Bowing After Receiving Certificates and Medals
I am relieved that the test is over, but more than that, I’m proud of myself. Not so much for earning a certificate and medal, but for sticking with this one activity. For sticking with taekwondo and Master and the studio through all of the good and bad that has happened to me in Korea. I am proud that I was able to earn a certificate and medal on the behalf of my studio and my teachers because they have made my life so wonderful here, even when everything was falling apart around me.
I am a bit sad that it’s over since it’s quite possibly the last big taekwondo thing (test, demo, tourney) that I will do in Korea. I got teary on the subway ride home. It feels like the end, almost.
But it’s not.
I’ll continue taekwondo, I’ll continue studying Korean, I expect to come back to Korea one day.