I started Martial Arts, Tang Soo Do, in 1985. I refused to test out of my rank as 10th gup multiple times. It actually got to the point where the Grand Master said if I didn't test, don't bother coming back. The way I would refuse to test, is just not show up for it.
I finally tested February 1987. My average grade on the test for 8th gup was 3.0
Examiner's comments. Eyes down / weak not confident. Upper block poor (same). Needs to pay attention in class, one steps - bad stance extend kick.
The examiners... No one knows who one is, the other we know, and has a gift for bs.
When I was a kid I didn't want to be there, and was more interested in making friends my age than how good I did in the class. I left not too long after.
In the late 90s I wanted to go back, was told the school was not more, because the grand master had passed away. I actually went to another school and signed up, but it was something like a month wait to start. Afterward I felt nostalgic, and drove past the community center the old school was in. After all those years, I still knew where it was. It wasn't the first time I dove past either, but it was the first time I dove past at the right time, on the right day.
My next test was March of 2001. I returned in August of 2000. Grade average for 6th gup was 3.8. Comment on my one steps from this examiner was "good control".
Other comments were: keep back leg straight, good focus. Shrugging shoulders on punches. Test performed by my current head master. (not a grand master, took over the school when the grand master died). I did go from 8th to 6ht, but there is a little more to it than that. While I was gone, they did away with the 8th gup rank, so when I came back I was technically an 8th gup, but considered a 7th gup.
My next test, which was me going for 5th gup, was February of 2002. The losest grade I got, was on 1 form. The grade was a 3.8. It was on a form I had only done once or twice. It was a from for the rank I was testing for. Average grade was 4.1. It resulted in a Double Promotion.
that Summer, the community center closed the school, and I trained with Grand Master Drouillard and Master Rick Burns (the master whose funeral I went too).
A year later I was ran over by a drunk driver, and told I'd never walk again. They said if I was ever lucky enough to walk, I'd need a cane, and I'd never do the stuff I used to for fun. Things like rock climbing, scuba diving, roller blading, martial arts. It took six months to prove them wrong about the walking, but they were right about the martial arts. At the time it looked like I'd never do that again. I went, I tried, and I usually had to drop out crying from the pain. That was 2004. I tried several times. Every time, the same thing. I tried again in 2005, and still the same thing.
In 2006, I started where I work now. The Senior Engineer at the time was a big exercise freak. I was up to 260. The most I'd ever weighed before was 250. I was 180 when I got hit by the car. The guy I worked with talked me into joining the gym he went to. Even though I still walked with a slight limp, and on occasion would come to work with a cane.
At the gym, part of the membership package was a half hour for training. Part of it was asking what you background was, and why you joined the gym. My anwsers never varied. I'm a formal martial artist, I want to get back down to my fighting weight. Half the current weight.
The trainer kicked my butt. I couldn't walk the next day. But all he worked on were my legs. He didn't have any space for any more clients, but there was this new guy, a buddy of his from another gym that had a martial arts background too.
I worked with the guy for about 3 months. He got me into kettlebells. The guy I worked with, always said he'd be my trainer, he used to be the guy in the army they sent people to. The remedial PT instructor. I even worked out with him, but his work out style and my style are too different. He wants the body builder look. I want the fighter look. He used to give me crap about working with Don. Until he watched one of our workouts. Don loved it. I wasn't like most clients. I was there to be pushed. Not just have the trainer to show off. My buddy was impressed.
About 2 months of training with Don, and not having a limp anymore (Kettlebells rock), I went to the Martial Arts school. They were doing matt work. I had only gone to talk and hang out for a bit. I asked if I could play on the matts. They were doing break falls. When I got done, everyone was staring. The head master asked where else I had been training. I said no where. I've been working with a MMA fighter, which Don was, as a personal trainer at the gym. They asked if I'd be back, I said in the fall. I was just too busy at the time with work.
I went back that fall.
March 2008, I tested again. I was going for 3rd Gup. I put down my original start date of 1985. My average grade was 3.9. I was awarded my 2nd gup. this test form, and cert are a little different then my other 3. The other 3 are copies of the original test sheet. This test sheet is the Original that the master usually keeps. Bot the test sheet, and the certificate have the club seal (stamp) on them. Those certs are the rare ones. They can't get them any more from what I understand.
I'm told this summer I will test again. While talking about me to another master, while I was standing there, the comment was made I'll be up for my black belt by the end of the year.
It's been 23.5 years. I've gotten more injuries than I can remember from the class alone. Dislocated toe, a torn up knee (it's gotten better too, like the hip), broken heals. sprains, and twists.
I can't wait to see what history I'll be talking about in another 23.5 years.