We have belt testings at our school 3 to 4 times per year. These events are pure beauty! Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim gives each person individual attention and sticks with them through their entire testing. We’ve had testings that have lasted hours and hours because students sometimes have challenges that they need to overcome. Great Grandmaster doesn’t give up on any student, no matter what hour of the night it is.
I’d like to share some of what some of the testing candidates shared.
The most senior ranked person is a blue belt that has been training for a few years. She is a teenager in high school. When it was her turn to stand in front of the head table and the whole school to announce her goals, she talked about how she gets bullied at school. She expressed that she has gained an inner strength from coming to Jung SuWon. She knows that after school gets out, she will go to Jung SuWon and everything will be OK. She knows that what she is bullied about doesn’t have any realness, it isn’t true, it isn’t who she is.
There were 2 brothers testing for their blue belts. They both talked about how they used to fight each other, how angry they were and how bad they were doing in school. The older brother is now taking honors classes. Great Grandmaster asked him if he preferred the fighting or the honors classes and he stated he preferred the honors classes. The younger brother talked about how much better he was doing in school and how he isn’t angry like he used to be. Their mother had the biggest, proudest smile on her face while she was videotaping what they were saying.
Another young man, a green belt testing for purple belt, talked about how shy he used to be and how he gets bullied at school. His father also spoke about his shyness and was so very proud of his son. He said that he was very surprised when he saw his son standing with other students and it was his son that was talking with the others listening. When this young man first started training, he couldn’t stand still, he didn’t pay attention and he was extremely shy. Now, he can speak in front of the entire class, he stands still and he helps talk to new students when they arrive. He is one of the first students to arrive after school and one of the last to leave. He called Jung Suwon his second family.
One purple belt teenager that tested for his blue belt is an amazing student. He was born deaf, with cataracts and with a hole in his heart. He has to wear special hearing equipment and some other equipment too. He spoke about being bullied in school and how he knows that those people aren’t really talking about him, what they say is just a reflection of who they are. His physical ability is a little limited and he struggled breaking his boards. But, our Great Grandmaster said that she wasn’t going to let him quit, she was going to see each board be broken, even if it took all night. He broke all of his boards. I’ll write more about the significance of the boards later on.
One green belt said that he used to always look at others and wish he looked like them or had the things they had. He said he has learned that he doesn’t need to look around at others to find out who he is or what he wants, he has it all inside of him. Such an amazing statement from a 12-year-old!
One young man in college said that he used to always be either sad or mad. After training for many months, he discovered that he had many more reasons to feel gratitude and appreciation for what he has, and he chooses to feel positive instead of being sad or mad now.
Another college student, a freshman, said that he hasn’t been coming to train at Jung SuWon recently due to his school and being so tired when he gets home from school. All he wants to do is sleep. As a result, he doesn’t feel as healthy, he gets out of breath quickly and the more he sleeps the more tired he feels. Great Grandmaster said that she is going to have students call him after school and encourage him to come to class instead of sleeping. He was so overcome with gratitude, that he started crying. Where else can a college man start crying in front of other people and not feel self-conscious or ashamed?
And crying in class is not something that anyone is ridiculed for. We all are training for our own reasons, and we each strive to give each other the respect and space needed to not interfere. His tears were tears of joy and it was beautiful.
One 9-year-old said at Jung SuWon helps her succeed in life. A 9-year-old! To know what the concept of success is at that age really tells me that children are growing up faster than ever. Our responsibility to guide them and help them learn to make the right choices is more critical than ever.
Great Grandmaster said asked some of the younger students if their parents helped them pick their goals, or if they did it on their own. Each student said they picked them on their own. Goals like “wisdom”, “become a black belt”, “be more focused” are quite mature goals for children ages 6 to 11. A few of the younger students, as they expressed their goals and talked about how training has helped them, would say “when I was little” and ” now that I’m grown up”. The instructors and parents all looked around at each other and we shared a very precious few moments of laughter and appreciation.
It is amazing to hear their level of maturity and self growth. Some spoke so clearly that if I had not seen their physical body, I would have been sure they were in their late teenage years or early twenties.
Great Grandmaster would tell students how proud she was of them. Their smile was so beautiful and they stood tall, both physically and spiritually.
A few students said that their parents made them come to Jung SuWon, but now they really like it and now they choose to come, no one pushes them to be there.
It was a beautiful testing event and I had the honor to sit at the head table for one of the evenings, so I was able to write a lot of notes to share here.