Straight off of nationals and vacation, Billy had another BIG week - Black Belt testing.
While he got his probationary black belt in October, this is the real deal. His 1st don (or degree).
A few things we learning in this process...
~ you can earn a black belt at any age as long as you pass all the training/testing requirements BUT... your belt will still be 1/2 red 1/2 black until you are 15. You dont get your official literal black belt in until you are 15. But, you can keep earning dons and they all carry with you when you turn 15
~ There are 3 dons between the 1st and 2nd degree and you have to wait/train/test for a minimum of 6 months in between (since Billy is now 12, if he keeps at this pace, he'll be a 2nd degree black belt at age 14)
~ I think there are 3 dons between 2nd degree and 3rd degree which would mean he'd be a 3rd degree by 17 and, if the same holds true for 3rd to 4th degree, he'd be a "master" by 20 - yikes!! (a lot of "ifs" though)
For the black belt test they do a series of full team practices and rehearsals, which are like large choreographed performance - but, in order to get there, you have to practice your butt off for years. He also needed to write a paper (a reflection on what tkd means to him and his life) and pass a pretty rigors physical test (sprints, weights, conditioning, flexibility, all followed by more sprints) - Kay was VERY glad that she doesnt have to write a paper to move from level 8 to level 9 but I'd say she has to perform at a very similar athletic level.
The test was Friday night and he was nervous that he'd make a mistake or not pass - when it was all over, you could literally see him exhale. There was forms, weapons, board breaking, cement breaking and inspirational speeches by the coaches. They also passed out the black uniforms and new belts that are engrave with their names in English and Korean as well as their Grand Masters name. Pretty cool. To celebrate we had Greek food (his favorite, go figure)
Then, Saturday was the traditional tea ceremony honoring the newest black belts and sharing what this accomplishment means to them. It was very heartfelt and once again, Billy was intently listening and engaged. The sweetest part was when Master Lemon gave his mom her 3rd degree belt. Too sweet. And, I should mention it was followed by a killer potluck with bulgogi and korean chicken...
Billy we are so so proud of you!! Very few people have the tenacity, focus and dive to be a black belt AT ALL, in their LIFETIME, and you've done it at 12 with a plan to continue on this path to your 2nd and 3rd degree. We love you so so much!!
Here are some highlights of the week...