Allow me to kvel a little, if I may. Kvel is a Yiddush word that is somewhere between bragging and exuding pride. I’m not exactly sure… I don’t speak Yiddush very well.
In September Theresa and I enrolled our little boy in Taekwondo. We had discussed a couple of years ago that when he was ready we would enrol him, and it would not be an optional activity. We did not know at the time that by the time he was ready I would be one of his instructors.
I was worried for the first couple of classes – but then I realized that it was silly. Sure, he was not paying 100% attention, but then he is a Tiny Tiger, and getting these kids (aged 4-6) to sit still and listen, or even do the fun activities we give them, is not the easiest job in the world. We liken it to hearding cats.
A couple of weeks into his classes he started learning his first Poomsae (pattern). I look at it as a simple one, but I am not four years old. It looks like it is only punching, but if you look close, they have to come to attention properly, bow properly, assume the form properly, and punch with the proper cadence. For an adult it is simple, for a kid… it’s a challenge.
He learned it pretty well, and was able to perform the Poomsae with me without a problem, and I thought he was ready to test.
Unfortunately later on the Master asked to see it, and he was not nearly as confident as he had been with me. To all of the other kids I am Instructor Garvis… but to Gilad I am Daddy. It’s different.
I was glad when a week or two later Master Godoy assured me that he was ready to test, and we got all excited. It was a bit of a letdown when I found out on Monday that our school’s regular grading test – the last Wednesday of the month – was cancelled. Instead the students would be testing during their regular classes. This was a blessing and a curse – there would be less pressure and less stress, but also less reward. However we decided that it would be fine.
Toward the end of the class on Tuesday Master Godoy had the other students sit, and invited Gilad to stand in front of them. He did his Poomsae, he did the kicking and punching that was asked of him, and when it was time he got into his fighting stance, and threw a front-snap kick right through the piece of wood that Master Godoy was holding for him (on the first attempt, and without any pain). I was doubly proud… I am proud of all of my students, but I think even the other parents will understand if I am even more proud of one special student.
Before the test came to an end Master Godoy asked Gilad to close his eyes and recite the first of our school’s Children’s Five Commandments. OBEY PARENTS SIR! was Gilad’s very confident answer. It was over.
Usually the Master has the honour of giving the first belt to a new student, but Master Godoy understood the importance of this one to us. He handed me the belt, and I asked Gilad to take his old White Belt off. I wrapped the new belt around my waist and said a little blessing, and then I tied it around Gilad’s waist. He was beaming… and so was I.
There will be more tests to come, more belts, harder poomsaes. There are five more Tiny Tiger (junior) belts before he earns the ‘Black’ – really a White Belt with Black Stripe. After that he will test for Yellow… then Orange, Blue, Green, Purple, Brown, Red, Black-White, Black-Red, and then finally his real Black Belt. Fifteen tests to go, and he will do just as well…
…but tonight as I write that no ne of that matters. Not for son/student, not for dad/instructor. Tonight we are both as proud as can be, and Gilad will go to school in the morning with a little more confidence than before. Good job Gilad!