Thoughts on Achieving Black Belt 1st Dan

April 2017
triple black belt promotion

Monika Bednarek of the Glasgow club, Ian Young of the Glasgow club and Kirk Oswald of the Motherwell club all successfully sat their 1st Dan Black Belt Gradings in December 2016 and were presented with their new belts and certificates by Grandmaster Hock Aun Teh in March 2017.

What was your main motivation for attempting the grading?

Monika: I am not really sure. When you are a White Belt you think that Black Belt is the ultimate goal, and you will be like a martial artist in the movies fighting hooligans on the streets, ha ha! But reality is far from that. I guess it was just natural progression for me, I had been preparing myself for it for nearly two years and I just decided that I would never really feel ready so I just went for it.

Ian: I’ve taken my time going through the grades and felt that I was performing to the best of my ability. I wanted to consolidate everything that I’d learned so far and move on.

Kirk: I didn’t pass Black Belt first time round, so I was motivated by this to give a better performance in my second attempt.

What did you enjoy most about training for the grading?

Kirk receiving his Black Belt

Kirk receiving his Black Belt

Kirk: What I enjoyed most was training with Grandmaster Teh. Knowing what I had to do and what Grandmaster Teh was looking for really helped me on the day.

Ian: I went to several other clubs to get extra training and the encouragement they gave me was amazing. All the extra effort that the instructors put in to make sure I was ready was really appreciated and made all the preparation much more enjoyable.

What did you find most difficult when training for the grading?

Ian: It’s hard to keep going practicing things over and over. Stamina plays a big part along with fitness. You know that you need to perform to the best of your ability on the day and that can only happen if you are at your best physically and mentally.

Monika: Not pushing myself too hard. You never feel you are working hard enough, and the one thing that I love about Tukido, the fact that we all work to our own abilities, was the hardest – I could not compare myself to anyone and say ‘I am better/worse than her’ because this is not what we do. Plus Grandmaster Teh always knows what we are capable of, and then pushes us even further, so any such comparison would be moot.

Kirk: I had problems performing my Sparring Form. Perfecting it to the standard required was the most difficult aspect for me.

Monika receiving her 1st Dan certificate

Monika receiving her 1st Dan certificate

How did you feel during the oral examination prior to the grading?

Ian: Very nervous (as usual) however Grandmaster Teh was very reassuring and did his best to try and relax me. You get very little feedback if your answer is right or wrong and this started making me unsure about the responses I’d given as a lot of things I’d revised went completely out of my head during the examination. There is no time limit so you don’t feel under any pressure to answer quickly however the examination felt like it was over in minutes.

Kirk: I was more nervous about my interview than the actual (physical) grading. Sitting in front of Grandmaster Teh. I couldn’t stop shaking!

Monika: Stressed, like I was back at school.

How did you feel on the day of the grading before it began?

Monika and Iain show off their 1st Dan certificates (with Rob McPhee 3rd Dan, centre)

Monika and Iain show off their 1st Dan certificates (with Rob McPhee 3rd Dan, centre)

Ian: Not as nervous as at Coloured Belt gradings as I didn’t feel that I was performing in front of anyone that didn’t know me. Everyone that had helped me train for the grading was there (as they had said they would be) and I felt like they were all behind me having done everything they could to get me ready for this day.

Monika: I guess I was fine – we were all too busy giving each other pep talks to worry about ourselves, sort of camaraderie at its best.

What did you enjoy most on the day?

Kirk: I was proud in how I performed in the destruction (power test) techniques. I was nervous about attempting the brick but was so happy when I broke it.

Monika: When I broke the brick with my jumping side-kick. I had never tried it before, but when Grandmaster Teh suggested I try it, I just went for it. I was so proud of myself!

Ian: I had never done a chop to a real brick before the grading and this was worrying me. I repeated the technique I’d been practicing and I fully committed to it. My hand went through the brick like butter and I looked at my hand is disbelief checking to see if it was damaged even though it wasn’t sore in the slightest.

What did you find most challenging on the day?

Kirk and Grandmaster Teh

Ian: Sparring forms back to back in free direction with additional jumping techniques. You need to put in every bit of effort that you can but also pace yourself to get through them all. I was going over and over the routines in my head and starting to get confused however when I started to perform them it all came naturally from memory. I was so pleased when I heard that I had nothing to re-perform.

Kirk: Having to re-perform my Sparring Forms was the most challenging for me.

Monika: Staying calm.

How do you feel about having passed?

Monika: Bit sad to be honest. It has been such an amazing journey. But I am ready for the new challenge of learning new sparring forms, one of which consists solely of 37 kicks, I feel that will take my fitness to another level.

Ian: Pleased, relaxed, proud, grateful, honoured. Looking forward to the next chapter. Hoping I can represent and uphold everything that a Tukido Black Belt should be.

Kirk: I feel a great sense of achievement. Having only started Tukido 3 years ago, I still feel new to it! I’m also happy for my fellow students who passed on that day too!

Now that you’ve passed, what’s your focus for your Tukido training?

Kirk: My focus now is to keep my training up and to keep learning. I feel it’s a new start in Tukido for me. I would also like to keep progressing through the grades.

Monika: I really don’t know! ????

Ian: I truly believe that black belt is a starting point and not a destination. I now want to improve on all the techniques that I have learned and learn how to use them more effectively. I want to increase my fitness and stamina and specifically work on things that I know I struggle with. I hope that I can also offer help and encouragement to other students going for their black belt.

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