The Test that Made me Confident

November 8, 2007
By Christine Hesler, Schenectady, NY

My parents have always wanted me to start martial arts. In any emergency I would be able to take care of myself. For years they had been talking about this and we finally acted upon it in the Summer of 2005. I was really excited. I have two friends that each go to a different Tae-Kwon-Do school who are both my age. After much pondering, my family and I decided that I would go to Northeast Tae-Kwon-Do.

That was about two and a half years ago. Now I have much more confidence, and I am much stronger. I excel in forms (movements) and sparring (fighting). Forms are kicks, blocks, and punches all put together in patterns. You have to learn a new pattern to earn a new belt. The belts begin with white, then yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, red, brown, recommended black, and black. Sparring is when you attack an opponent with the different movements you have learned.

Master Zampino, my master instructor, has given me a helping hand throughout Tae-Kwon-Do. He is an eighth degree black belt and is the owner of the academy. He is working toward his ninth degree which is very rare. Master Zampino is a man of confidence. He’s someone to look up to and admire. He has trained with some of the best world champions of Tae-Kwon-Do throughout his Tae-Kwon-Do career.

My sister and brother take Tae-Kwon-Do too. They are both yellow belts (second belt up). They started last summer and we take the same classes together. They love it too! My sister, Emily, who is seven, can be very aggressive when she wants to be. She is strong, quick, and agile but small like me. She is a very loving sister. My brother, Matthew, is eight years old. He is medium height and is quick, fast, and strong. They both can’t wait to start sparring. We help each other and I am teaching them the kicks, punches, and forms they need to learn. This helps me remember my earlier moves and forms when I was a novice in Tae-Kwon-Do. Now I will tell you the details of the day that I took my red belt test.

It was in the afternoon. My Dad was driving my family and me to Northeast Tae-Kwon-Do Academy for our belt tests. My grandparents were following us in their car. My brother and sister were taking their first belt test. They would hopefully earn a yellow belt. I would hopefully earn my red belt.

As we pulled into the small rectangular parking lot, I noticed there weren‘t many cars there. We were early. Next to it was a small white building. As I walked up the steps into the open doorway I noticed there were at least three other kids there.

While my eyes were getting accustomed to the dimness of the building, I noticed that the table in the back of the training room had been pushed from it’s original resting place. This was because the instructors would sit there while grading the student’s progress. Once I slipped my sneakers and socks off I went into the training part of the building. The cool wooden floor soothed my burning feet from the hotness of the car. The windows on the right side of the building showed cars passing by. Next to them were different kinds of equipment. To the left side of the equipment the tenets of Tae-Kwon-Do were painted in red on the wall: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. The left side showed the large mirrors, the punching bag, and the kicking bags.

During my red belt test I was very nervous, but excited too at the prospect of getting a red belt. It would be one of my most important tests. Once you get a red belt you are considered advanced. Instead of being in the class for white to purple belts, I would go to the advanced classes for red to black belts. During a test, the first part you do are warm-up exercises (push-ups, stretching, jumping jacks, etc.). Next we do kicks and punches. Finally, the younger belts do their present and previous forms. Then it is time for the more advanced belts. As the advanced belts lined up for forms, I was nervous. Very nervous. I had to do six previous forms and my new red belt form. After our forms the sparring started for the orange belts and higher. I worked hard and ended up beating my opponent. We went through at least five rounds. After that I had to break a board doing a 360° spinning back kick.

After the test was over my instructors congratulated me. They praised me for my sparring and forms. Our grandparents then took my whole family and me to Topps, a nearby restaurant.

Through only three and a half hours of time I changed.

Ever since that night I have felt more confidence in my heart and soul than ever before. My red belt shows that hard work and confidence lead to happiness. If you really work hard at something you will win it. Now I am a brown belt. I am strong, agile, and much more confident about myself than ever before. Now I am not nervous at belt tests anymore. I don’t care what other people say about me being small. I go by the saying: “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” I know who I am and I’m proud of myself.

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