Sunday, March 27, 2011
The boys had their first Tae Kwon Do grading this morning. They were far from keen. They often have to be dragged to classes, and although Michael just floops his way through it, Marcus often complains that his back hurts, or something’s not fair. Miscellaneous grizzles. Then Michael chimes in, despite showing every indication of enjoying it when he's there.
So, grading. We promised the boys that if they at least achieved brown belt we would let them choose something else to do, as long as it was something they could do together. Over the last few days I have been trying to encourage the boys to practice by attacking them with carrots, socks, underpants, magazines, apples etc. The would wave a desultory low block in my direction and give me that "you're embarrassing" look they they have learned from teens on TV. Michael repeats like a mantra "Tae Kwon Do is useless". Marcus said "What if you are attacked by something poisonous, or spiky? You wouldn't want to block with your hand then would you?" Michael added "Or something hard, but floppy?"
We managed to get them into the white gear, keep them away from the black dog and get them in the car. Grading was in a high school gym in the northern suburbs. The boys were in a group of about 70 white and brown belts, aged from about 6-12. Some very small kids were in the upper grades of brown belt, well on their way to purple.
They judged each grade together - I was worried for the boys that they would have to stand all alone in front of all the parents etc and execute their moves. Marcus did very well, he was obviously doing his best. Michael did better than we feared (he had been rehearsing some pretty disrespectful expressions) but he at least did everything he was asked to. I don't think his block would have stopped a serious assailant with a sock or apple though.
As the grading wore on, and the moves performed got more and more complicated, I was constantly tempted to leap up and move the kids further apart. None of the highly trained senseis seemed to realise that kids were bumping into each other, and sometimes performing chops to the back of each others heads by mistake. The top grade were asked to do some free shadow-combat with blocks, kicks, punches and snappy turns - they looked a little like obstacle-sensing robots.
A sequence of moves often ends with a punch and a sharply shouted "TEH!". When the kids are asked to do the sequence in their own time, you can tell that the ones who finish last are a bit reluctant to draw attention to their last-ness with a big shout. I'm pretty sure one of them said "Murp".
The whole thing wrapped up a good deal faster than I had thought. Marcus was relieved at the end that it had been quick and not as daunting as he had feared. Michael maintained that TKD is "stupid" as well as "useless". Tomorrow they have their next class and will see if they have progressed to the Belt of Brown.
I have just looked up some of the competition rules and now have to think about whether I want the boys participating in a sport where three points are awarded for a kick to the head.