Rocky Mountain Martial Arts has again promoted outstanding people into higher Taekwondo ranks.
On Saturday, July 1, Master Jim Miller concluded his final round of black belt training with a four hour test. Ranks being tested for ranged from first degree to fourth degree of black belt. Those being promoted to first degree were Dave Tuesday, Julene Tuesday, Amy Martin, Landon Heaton (of Championship Training in Missoula under the training of Master James Corbin); promoted to second degree were Samuel Byrnes and Lauren Powers; promoted to third degree were Robert Chambers and Sara (Senst) Lightner; promoted to fourth degree was Jeff Beckett.
During this test, the black belt candidates had a written exam to review their knowledge of Korean vocabulary and history and martial arts history, followed by a test of knowledge and skill of Taekwondo techniques, endurance and compassion during a vigorous physical exam. At various points of the exam, each black belt candidate was pushed past what they believed their limits to be, demonstrating their tenacity and indomitable spirits. In addition to demonstrating knowledge of technique, each candidate had to perform all of their color belt poomse (forms) and the appropriate poomse for the rank of black belt being tested for; each candidate completed from 9 to 12 poomse. They showed the ability to work as a group by performing their first black belt poomse, Koryo, in unison to music.
The next event of the test was gyroogi (sparring). Not only did the black belts spar with each other, but two color belts, Mike and Lydia Borduin, joined in the sparring. Mike and Lydia were regular participants of the black belt training classes and for their participation in the extra training and the black belt test, they earned an advancement in their color belt ranks. Sparring is the greatest area for testing each black belt candidate’s compassion. Each Taekwondo athlete is taught that there will times that they are better than someone else with a particular technique and that there will be times when someone else is better than them. It is during those times when they find themselves having the upper hand and they choose not to take advantage of the situation, but rather to allow the other person an opportunity to engage and learn, that they are demonstrating compassion and the true heart of a Taekwondo athlete.
Advantages come in various forms, from Bob Chambers’ incredible punch, to Lauren Powers’ graceful head kicks, to Jeff Beckett’s power, to Landon Heaton’s surprise rising kick to the back of the head. After several rounds of sparring, the black belt candidates engaged in a form of self-defense fighting called rondoori. This is a type of all-out, anything goes fight in which you try to take your opponent to the ground and gain submission. It is also a great opportunity to work together and demonstrate compassion by allowing your partner the chance to work on a particular technique, and to work on escape tactics once someone grabs ahold of you. All candidates did a great job, putting full effort in even when they started to get fatigued.
The final event of the test was board breaking. All candidates had at least seven boards to break, some of the breaks involving two or three boards at one time. Board breaking in and of itself can be challenging, but it becomes even more of a test of one’s determination and focus at the end of a four hour test when you are physically drained.
All black belt candidates did an excellent job displaying their tenacity of spirit and kindness of heart. Taekwondo is meant to be a place of learning to improve and better yourself, developing character traits that make you a better member of the community. It teaches us to defend ourselves, not to attack others, but to build others up to be their best. The black belts did a tremendous job of that, as evidenced by the laughter, high fives and shouts of encouragement heard during the test. Black belts – you should all be proud of yourselves for a job well done. You have earned and deserve your promotion! Continue the good work and pay it forward in the teaching of the younger ranks.
— Story submitted by Rocky Mountain Martial Arts