Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Little Black Belt

NOTE: This post was first published in July, 2014.

Look, this is one huge parentbrag post about my kid, so if you want to skip it, I understand.  Also feel free to tell me how awesome my kid is in the comments - I won't stop you.

Assuming nothing really weird happens (alien abduction, natural disaster, the Rapture), today is the day my daughter will be given her black belt in American Karate (for those of you outside of Texas, this is actually Tae Kwon Do - yes, it's confusing).  She's already earned it, but the test is the demonstration where she proves it to a board that she has.

Up until the middle of last week, Kidlet was doing okay, stress-wise.  Then she looked at the calendar, saw she had about ten days to go, and my house went from one of calm and routine and relative quiet to Freakout City.

Pretty much what my house is like.
Now, Kidlet has been preparing a long time for this day, and she's been diligently training at home daily like every good Black Belt candidate does - she takes the martial arts quite seriously and probably will be a "lifer" in the martial arts.  Our garage is a home martial arts workout space, so she has plenty of opportunity, especially now that she's on summer break from school.

Part of the requirements of her test is that she has to prepare a resumé, and I thought I'd share with you some of what we put together, with stuff that didn't make it into what she's turning in today.

Kidlet just turned fourteen, and she's been training since she was five.  We've moved around a lot, so she's ended up training at many different schools, but mostly different variants of Tae Kwon Do (my word, there are a lot of them).

At her first school (also where Mr. Chick and I started the martial arts), Kidlet initially started in their gymnastics program.  One day, nobody but us showed up for the gymnastics class, so the Master asked Kidlet if she'd like to stay and try the martial arts class (it is an art called PaSaRyu Tae Kwon Do). Kidlet said yes, and the rest is history.

Kidlet, Age 6
Funny story about the image above, which did NOT go on her formal resumé.  This was at Kidlet's test for Camo belt (hush, you - Master thought that kids would enjoy camo more than regular plain ol' green. As silly as it is - he was right). 

During this (XMA-version) nunchaku pattern, Kidlet lost her grip and the nunchaku sailed straight up in the air and bonked another kid in the head.  Luckily, these were cheapo foam nunchaku and nobody was injured.  It was actually the biggest flub she's ever made on a test.

She got better - this is in competition.  She won.
Given that today she plans to do nunchaku (real Okinawan style this time made of White Oak) on her test... I'm pretty sure she's going to keep her grip today.

After a couple of years, we ended up moving away, and she landed in a Kung Fu school at first. She was excited, as she got to learn some Chinese Iron Fan forms.

She was a FAN of Kung Fu.  Ha!
This school possibly had one of the most knowledgeable teachers she's ever been with.  Unfortunately, he was also pretty flaky (not uncommon in the martial arts, I'm afraid) and constantly showed up to class late, or had issues of one kind or another.  We moved her to another school shortly after he showed "The Last Dragon" in class.

So we changed schools again, to an art that bills itself as "American Karate" but is not actually Tae Kwon Do (confused yet?) but is is a hybridized art based on Kempo. Nice man, and Kate was enjoying the classes very much.  She started as a white belt (seen below) but moved up very fast as she was assessed in skill and allowed to jump rank.

Don't get mad, get kicky.
And then we had to move again - we were only in Las Vegas a year - and we ended up in Texas.

We ended up at a very well run school at a community center nearby.  Remember the flaky master in Las Vegas?  The master here is his polar opposite. This is our first contact with "American Karate" being Tae Kwon Do.   All three of us started in this school together as white belts, and we tested together to establish rank.  Kidlet got Purple, we got Blue (one rank below her).

The family that kicks ass together, stays together.
The school is very successful, well run, and very big.  In some ways, for us, too big.  After Mr. Chick and I left to go to our current teacher to study Arnis full time, a few months later, Kidlet tried one of the American Karate classes (related but different lineage) that my teacher offers, and she decided to switch and joined us at Hidden Sword Martial Arts.  It's smaller and she gets more individualized attention.

Again, she started as a white belt, but then she tested for Purple to establish rank at the new school... and the board granted her 3rd Brown instead, which is the next rank up!  It was a complete surprise!

I've mentioned that Kidlet takes this stuff very seriously.  She has been working with the lower rank belts classes on Saturdays as an assistant instructor.  She refers to these students as her "chicks".  When she thinks they performed better in competitions than they are awarded, she takes it personally, and is outraged on their behalf (she does not enjoy tournaments much now, but she attends to support the school and her "chicks").

"Miss Kidlet" teaching students.
Here we are to today.  I will be posting a full recap of the test and photos in a follow-up post shortly.

You've seen this picture before if you've read this blog for a while, but... while she's an amazing young woman and an accomplished young martial artist that I am incredibly proud (and grateful) to have, in my mind's eye, she will always look like this:

Thanks for reading, and Kidlet can always use your positive good vibes sent her way today.