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Conquering Challenges

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Happy Friday folks.  It is May 31st… the last day of the month, for many people it’s a day to submit expenses.  In southern Ontario it is a beautiful sunny day (some people complain about the heat… I never do) and it is not surprising that around the office there is a lot of chatter about plans for the week-end… cottages, parties, dinners-out, and so on.  I haven’t asked her, but if she is anything like I was I have a friend who is thinking of none of those things.

I met Ms. Anita Kanwar and her family a little over four years ago.  She had just joined our Taekwondo school (OMAC Canada) with her daughter and son.  I remember helping her out with some of her early patterns – I was only a few belts ahead of her, but that is how it works in Taekwondo – and how eager she was, and how willing she was to learn how to do things the right way.  The day she tested for her Black Belt (in December, 2010 – six months after I did) I was so proud that I was literally gushing.

Last week Ms. Anita was qualified (pre-tested) by Grandmaster Kim, and has been cleared to test for her Second Degree Black Belt this month.  Next Saturday, June 8th, will be her big day.  I call it that because there are very few experiences to rival a Black Belt testing… and very few things that can cause such singular focus.

It is difficult to put an exact date on when someone starts training for a Black Belt test.  Some say it is the day you first join Martial Arts, but I do not agree with that at all.  Others say that it is your first class after you achieve Black Belt Excellence, and while that is closer, I am still not convinced… most of us were so focused in the weeks and months leading up to that test that we take a bit of a break – we may or may not continue to train, but it is in no way at the level of the weeks leading up to the test.

In my experience I made the decision to test for my Second Degree Black Belt in January – five months before the testing.  For those of you who read my blog at that time, and for those of you who were in my life, you will know that my focus over those months was so intense that it was impossible to miss.  The closer that day came the more intense the focus was.  In the two weeks leading up to the test I may have gone to work and all, but I ate, drank, slept, rested, and was Taekwondo focused.  My blogs were about Taekwondo because my thoughts were.

If I know my friend, student, peer Ms. Anita, she is as focused on next Saturday’s test as she is on anything else.  It will never be far from the front of her mind.  I spoke with her last night and can see it in her eyes… she is ready physically, but the mental preparation is something that doesn’t come, it just continues to build.  Right now she is precisely eight days from being ready… of course in her mind she is ready, but we learn and teach patience in Taekwondo, so she has eight more days to prepare and she will use every one of them… to prepare mentally, and of course to continue to prepare physically.

I am so proud of Ms. Anita for how far she has come.  She continues to amaze me at every class.  I look forward to congratulating her after the test – we do that with a handshake, a punch to the shoulder, and some congratulatory words – and then starting to train for our Third Degree Black Belt.

Ms. Anita will not be thinking of anything in the last paragraph this week… True students of Taekwondo do not try to see beyond a Black Belt testing; Ms. Anita right now is focused only on her patterns, her knife-defense sparring, and those bricks.  For her, there is nothing beyond those… until she breaks them, which she will.  However until that happens I know that she is focused on her goal.  Good luck to you Ms. Anita!

Mitch Garvis

2nd Degree Black Belt (Kukkiwon)

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