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.