I’ve been back in Tae Kwon Do for a few months now. I’ve been slowly relearning the traditional colored-belt patterns. In Unified Tae Kwon Do, a student reaches a black belt by beginning with a white belt, you then achieve higher belts by learning and performing your patterns during a test, board breaking, sparring and your overall attitude, devotion and enthusiasm. The test is conducted by either an instructor or Master Park. Master Park was at all of my tests.
You start with a white belt, then you test for a yellow stripe. You then test for yellow belt, then test for green stripe. Green belt, blue stripe, blue belt, red stripe, red belt, black stripe, another black stripe and then black belt.
For each rank you must remember two patterns, one traditional and one free-sparring as well as the patterns from previous belts. It gets pretty rough when you’re getting ready to test for your black belt. I believe it took me three years to reach black belt. I continued going to classes until I graduated from high school and then moved to Austin for college. It was then that I began practicing the fine art of being out of shape.
Nine years later, I’m back in and really enjoying it – wondering why I ever gave it up. I’m in better shape than I’ve been in a long time. I can comfortably perform the white through red stripe traditional patterns as well as one of my four black belt patterns. My self confidence has also grown a lot in the past months. Not that I was really lacking, but confidence can always grow.