As you know, Bob, my younger son and I study a Korean martial art named Tang Soo Do together. David’s been taking classes at Triumph Karate in Kingston, NY, since July of 2011; I joined the school the following December. Although David is still technically my senior, I’ve caught up to him rank-wise, and our last several promotions have been together. This past September was time for our next major promotion, to red belt, which is the last belt before black. (For those of you who are savvy to such things, we were testing for our third gups.) (Actually, we were ready to be tested in August, but asked our Sa Bom Nim (teacher) if we could wait a couple of weeks until my older son and his family were going to be up visiting.) So on a Friday night, David and I tested for and passed our red belt tests, and were awarded our belts:
I’d be lying if I said I was anything other than delighted for the two of us. This is the farthest I’ve ever gone in anything like this, and to have done so alongside David was a privilege. Afterwards, Fiona, David, and I retired to a local pizza restaurant (King’s Pizza in Kingston–highly recommended) together with Nick, Mary, and their kids, plus my sister, Christina, her husband, Tony, and their two kids. That meal is one of my favorite memories from this past year: everyone seated at one long table, talking with, over, and into one another, a general sense of well-being and merriment (and pizza!) filling the air.
Almost immediately after that night, however, I had to have my hernia surgery, which kept me out of Tang Soo Do for about six weeks. When I returned, it was just in time to help Fiona, David, and our Sa Bom Nim put together the studio’s first Halloween party, which was a smashing success and which climaxed with me telling a group of kids and their parents the story of a cursed black belt.
Two weeks after that, David and I participated in our studio’s first annual tournament. Neither one of us was as prepared as we would have liked; despite which, we both earned medals. He took second in sparring and second in board-breaking; I took first in weapons (sword) and board-breaking, third in sparring, and fourth in forms. I was maybe most pleased with the weapons win, for which I adapted one of our forms to use with a sword my older son had given us a couple of years ago. The tournament was harder for David, who had practiced long hours on a bo staff form that didn’t place. But he kept his chin up, and later that same night, he was back at the staff, working on new forms for it.
The year to come will be full of a lot of training, as David and I look forward to our black belts (we hope) sometime in 2016. Thanks to Sa Bom Nims Batista and Duncan, and everyone associated with Triumph, for a great year.