It was long overdue. I last tested five years ago. But that is what happens when one is away from home for several years.
Anyway, Round 1 was Friday night. I had to complete two written tests and a fitness test. I was not really worried about the written tests. I knew the material fairly well from my coaching responsibilities. The fitness test was another matter. There were five stations: push-ups, sit-ups, squat thrusts, leg lifts, and ski jumps. We were given two minutes at each station to complete as many of whichever exercise as we could. We had to surpass a certain number to pass. I managed without too much trouble, thankfully. I truly wanted to smack the kid who was in my group, though. He kept arguing with me and the instructors when he was told to be quiet and keep going. After all those wonderful calisthenics, we went to the nearby high school track and ran three miles. That was exhausting. If we made it past all that, we were able to come back Saturday morning to do the rest.
Only one failed Friday night. She did not make it past the written. Her father was not thrilled, I am sure, but he seemed to realize she was not ready and accepted that. Another parent argued with the instructor about his son's written test. The son managed to scrape together a passing score, but only just. I felt a little bad, because the boy was studying the material he got from his dad, and that material was wrong.
Round 2 did not really worry me. I was nervous, yes, but only because I wanted to perform well. First we did our forms. There were 21 students testing and we were split up into four groups. The first two groups did their forms without too much trouble from the sounds of it. The third group was in front of the instructors for some time, though, because they kept making mistakes. My brother, Nathan, and I were in the fourth group and we were getting irritated because we wanted to get it done. The younger four who were with us were getting increasingly nervous. Finally, the third group came back and we went in.
Our head instructor must have wanted to make sure we knew our stuff. We did five forms before he excused the three 1st Degrees. That left myself, another 2nd Degree, and my brother. Then we did the highest form the other 2nd Degree and I knew. Afterward, I was excused, but the other 2nd Degree was not. He had to redo the form because he did not do it correctly, apparently. I was not paying attention to him beyond the vague realization that he always seemed a step or two behind me, making me wonder if he knew his forms all that well. I did not stick around to see him redo the form, though I could imagine Nathan was irritated because he also had to redo it since he was still in the room. I had to get my sparring gear on. The kid was excused after the second try and Nathan stayed to do his highest form. I had no doubt he knew his form well. In total, I did six forms and Nathan did seven, not including the one he had to do twice because of the other student's mistakes.
Sparring was extremely tiring. We did four one minute rounds. The first guy I sparred came within less than an inch of breaking my nose. His foot brushed the tip of it. Had it been a more solid hit, I would have ended up in the emergency room. I ended the match right there. I was not going to allow him to hurt me just because he could not be bothered to watch or control his kicks. The other three matches ended a few seconds later, so my action may have gone unnoticed by some. Not a word was said to me, so the instructors must have realized why. The other three matches were uneventful in comparison.
Next was the mystery break. That is where a student stands in the middle of the room and closes their eyes. The black belt instructors and any others who are helping then grab whatever size board the head instructor decides on for the student and forms a circle around them, holding their boards at various angles. I could tell some of those kids were really nervous about this part, but most made it through with little trouble. I broke my boards with no issues. Nathan broke all of his as well. Two of the other black belt instructors brought out a brick for him to break. For some reason or another, Nathan was unable to break the brick. The instructors did not have someone supporting them from behind, so every time he kicked the brick, they were pushed back, which made it very unlikely that it would break. Nathan was annoyed, but managed to keep a civil tone.
Finally, we did the power break. This is where they put a board over two concrete blocks with a student's black belt below the board. The student then has to break through the board to get their belt. It is their final obstacle. We were allowed to pick how many boards we wanted to break. I absconded with the last five large boards. Since I was the second highest rank testing, I could pull rank on the other students if they argued. None did. Nathan was the highest rank testing, but he would be breaking bricks, so I had nothing to worry about from him. Five students would do their breaks at a time. This meant Nathan would be attempting his break solo. There were numerous gasps and murmurs from students and members of the audience when I brought out my boards. I was a little surprised by the reaction, but grinned at it. If they had doubts, then I gladly proved them wrong when I went through those boards. My brother had hoped to break four bricks this time. He managed to break two, which was impressive considering how badly his hand must have been hurting from the previous attempts to break all four. He was not happy about the attempt. This was noticed later when he admitted to us that he had not realized he had gotten a standing ovation when he was finished. But his disappointment gave him a goal to work toward. He will try again.
I am still tired from the testing. If everything is done with energy and power like the instructors want to see, then it is a very exhausting experience. But there is a great sense of accomplishment when that belt is tied around the waist. It is a great feeling to have my 3rd Degree.