How About Another Belt?

It’s been a while since I posted about the kids, so I figured a lazy Sunday would do the trick. On Friday night, Kevin and Princess P had a belt test for their martial arts program. Both Kevin and Princess P have their junior black belts, so Kevin was earning his black belt with green stripe (above), and Julia earned her black belt with yellow stripe.

The test was very rigorous, took an hour, and they both performed very well. Julia seemed to be kicking much harder than Kevin, but Kevin was punching so hard, I thought he was going to put a hole through the punching bag. They also worked with other students, sparring, and using self-defense tactics.

As you can see above, Julia had a bad hair day after all the fighting, and Kevin was really sweaty. It was all worth it, though, because every belt test is closer to an adult black belt. It’s something both Kevin and Princess P love doing, and it keeps them in shape.

Their sensei – to the right of Kevin – has a video of Kevin working, kicking once in regular time, and jumping in the air before kicking in slow-motion. He looks like Neo from The Matrix.

I’m very proud of them both.

Black Sabbath

You may remember last May when I bragged about Kevin’s black belt test. It was a little intimidating for the boy, and even after getting injured twice during the test, he sucked it up and passed with flying colors.

Yesterday was Julia’s turn.

Princess P has a more even keel. Like Kevin, she was nervous about taking the test, but she was also very excited to test her skills. She is a little more timid – Kevin is a killing machine – but Julia’s punches and kicks are a little more fluid.

We arrived at 9:30am with eleven other students and the test lasted from 10am to about 12:15pm. The candidates began with basic moves, then progressed into string attacks, combo punches, and sparring as well as grappling. For the most part, Julia sparred with the other girls, but during the two-on-one attacks, Julia went up against two boys. She held her own.

During every water break – which lasted sixty seconds – I became Mickey from the Rocky films.

“You’re doing well, but you need to be faster.” “You’re halfway there. Pick it up, and punch harder.” “Almost done. I know you’re tired, but do not slow down.”

The testers always have to complete The 600 at the end of every junior black belt test. It’s the final event which everyone must complete. So after two hours of fighting, push-ups, sit-ups, and buckets of sweat, Princess P had to dish out 600 punches into a pad held by a parent. Guess who earned that job?

She was great. We counted fifty at a time, took a three-second break, then continued for another fifty. It took a while, and you could see how tired she was getting, but she did it, fully and completely. The look on her face when she knew she earned it made me want to cry. When she started martial arts, she was unsure if she would enjoy it. Now it’s a part of her.

The student gets to choose how their name is written on the junior black belt, and can choose a color for the name. This is going to shock you, but Julia wanted her name in script… and with pink lettering. Shocker there. When I left for work yesterday, Julia had changed her clothes, but was still wearing the belt around the house.

I am so very proud of her.

Always Bet On Black Belt

In case you were wondering, I was scarce yesterday because it was a very special afternoon for our family. My youngest son, Kevin, was scheduled for his junior black belt test at his martial arts school.

We were lucky enough to have the school to ourselves thanks to the Wuhan virus, and Sensei Dave said it was the first time he ever had one student for a junior black belt test.

Since the virus had everyone – except Kevin – wearing a mask, the instructors had Julia spar with the boy. She’s only a few belts lower than Kevin, and her size is comparable to Kevin’s. As you can see in the top photo, Kevin didn’t take it easy on her, and vice-versa.

Unfortunately, at about fifteen minutes in of the hour test, Kevin gave a roundhouse kick to the dummy – at right – but missed the dummy and his foot connected with the solid base. He dropped to the ground in pain, and hobbled off the floor. The foot squarely hit the hard plastic, and Sensei Dave had him take a few minutes to recover.

Kevin hopped back onto the floor a la Daniel LaRusso and continued his test. Of course, Kevin being Kevin, he got hurt again after his knee connected with Julia’s nose. The tears started, partly from the pain and partly from the stress of the test.

Sensei Dave told Kevin he didn’t come all this way to turn back, helped Kevin with his composure, and continued the test. The pain stirred up some anger, and Kevin started punching harder, moving faster, and blocking Julia’s blows quicker. Near the end, I was asked on the floor, so Julia and I could attack Kevin one after another. Julia would throw punches, then I would grab him in control holds. Kevin worked his way out of them all, and after finishing with 600 punches – all aimed at me while holding a striking pad – he passed the test.

All the sweat, exhaustion, and pain was swept away the moment he knew he passed.

Kevin started martial arts in 2016, passed his first test with a cast on one arm, and climbed the ranks over three and a half years. When Kevin started training, he was the shy, quiet kid who threw soft punches and average kicks. Now the boy is on the Leadership Team, much more mature, and his punches really, really hurt. (Believe me, I know.)

I have never seen him happier, or smile more, than when he received his junior black belt. His name is embroidered on it in “Burnt Texas Orange,” which is apparently a real color. (You can see it on him in the above photo.)

We have never been more proud of him.

My Princess Is Better Than Your Princess

Princess P was scheduled for karate belt testing Friday night. She was testing for her blue belt, and the exam lasts a little over an hour. It has been the first event I was present for since her dance recital – I missed both the Christmas and the Spring concerts – thanks to my shift work. I knew Princess P would pass with ease – the girl is like an MMA fighter when she’s training, but I was hoping she would really do her best.

As the testing began, she partnered up with two of her friends. Lily, along with Princess P and Vivian, is one of the PowerPuff Girls; so named by Sensei Dave. Dave always walks past them and says, “Boys are the enemy!” Amanda is a seventh grader who punches like Ivan Drago. When Princess P holds the paddle for Amanda’s strikes, she always gets knocked backwards. Both girls are very nice, but when they step on the mat, they’re intensely focused…

Continue reading “My Princess Is Better Than Your Princess”

Patience, Grasshopper

My youngest son Kevin has been learning martial arts for a few years now. The experience has totally transformed him from the shy, nervous kid, to a confident young man. After last month’s dance recital, Julia mentioned she may be interested in martial arts to “keep me in shape for dance.”

Last night was her first lesson.

She learned a few basic moves, including how to get out of a choke hold, and with the exception of responding, “Yeah,” instead of “Yes Sensei,” she did very well. Sensei Julian said Julia’s legs are very strong, to which Mrs. Earp replied, “Well, she’s a dancer.” Julia told me she had fun, and wants to continue with it. It also helps her big brother is a martial arts guru.

So, with my gun collection, three older brothers, and her martial arts training, I truly pity the kid who comes knocking at our door expecting to date my Princess.