After 8 months and who knows how many classes, I finally bit the bullet and signed up to do my Blue stripe TKD test. I spent the month of January focusing more on TKD and less on running to help ensure that I was ready. I had notes on my patterns pinned up in my cubicle at work, I watched YouTube videos whenever I could. I tried to get to classes early so that I could practice or ask one of the Black Belts for help with a particularly difficult area.
All that and I still didn’t feel ready.
The whole testing took just over 2 hours for all 14 of us. The little kids always go first. They are so cute, but watching them do their patterns – often messing up their lefts and rights – was making confused about my own upcoming testing moment. After the 5 year old crowd and the 2 adult White belts all passed their tests it was my group’s turn. There were 4 of us ranging from a Yellow Belt to my Green belt. I made it through the 6 patterns that I needed to know with a few minor issues, including stepping on the kid next to me! Every time I would try to move over before we started a pattern to give myself more room, he would move towards me again! Eventually the tester pointed out that I was moving to give us more space and that it might work better if he stopped following me.
Following patterns we had to demonstrate our techniques in both 3-step non-traditional sparring and fundamental movements. From there we moved on to 1-step and 2-step traditional sparring – usually the hardest area for me as we don’t often cover this in class and you are expected to learn it on your own from the book, or before/after class from a more senior belt.
I then had a breather while the last group went through their paces before I had to do a 2 minute round of contact sparring. Ooof. That was a long and hard 2 minutes! The woman I was sparring against is …. how should I put it…. Intense? Rough? Mean? Powerful? One of the parents even mentioned afterward that I had my hands full with that sparring match. I’ve been paired up with her in class before and I often end up covered in bruises from blocking her kicks or not blocking one of her punches. She is not malicious about it, but doesn’t always recognize her own strength, and never holds back, even when it’s a teaching/learning moment. I may invest in shin guards just because of her.
The last part of my test came as a surprise, as I didn’t realize that it was required for my Blue stripe. I had to break a 3/8” thick board with a front snap kick. Luckily I have done this break before, and it is one of the easiest breaks to do. You get 2 tries on your test – I broke it on my first kick.
The chapters of my working life can be measured in decades.
The first 10 years, starting when I was only 14, were spent in a variety of jobs from kitchen staff to nurse’s aide and bartender to shooter girl. Then, quite by accident, I landed what was supposed to be a throwaway job that turned into a 10 year career with that company. It is thanks to that job that Hilary and I ended up moving to Halifax. After 10 years though I was ready for a change. As luck would have it a new opportunity came along and I was able to move on – still on the same career path, doing the same type of work, just for a new company.
And now with my 10 year anniversary with this company just 2 months away, I am moving on again.
I start a new job Monday morning.
Once more I am on the same career path, doing that work that I do. Will I stay with this company for a full decade, keeping my working streak? Who knows. That timing would make things interesting, leaving me with just one more decade after that before I would be of age to retire. I think only having 4 major job changes over a lifetime of working would be a pretty good way to end things. But then again, maybe I’ll spend the next 20 years at this new job.