Intention. Spirit. Courage. Black Belt.
Just over two weeks ago William experienced the power of positive thinking, of being determined, of being courageous, and of having and displaying true spirit.
Every few months the students of Rhee Tae Kwon Do are given the opportunity to attempt promotion in front of Master Chong Chul Rhee, the founding father of Rhee Tae Kwon Do in Australia. William began his Rhee Tae Kwon Do journey three years ago when a Dojang was opened at his school. He has flown through the grades beginning with white belt, then yellow, tip, yellow belt, green tip, green belt, blue tip, blue belt, brown tip and then brown belt. Next grade for William was black tip before the honour of earning his black belt. He trains hard whenever he can and attends an extra class each Tuesday night at another Dojang. His Grandad takes him. We couldn’t do it without the support of my Dad. x
William arrived at the February grading with a strong intention. He wanted his black tip promotion. William is one determined, focused boy when he puts his mind to something. But he was also scared. Like many of us, his determination and focus also comes with a side of self doubt and fear. Sounds familiar and relatable to me. You too? William knew that he had to be noticed and seen as worthy of an invitation to progress by Master Rhee. So he stepped into that hall and launched his spirit into the realm of possibility, backed with his positive affirmations. I AM ready. I WILL be seen. I WILL be promoted today. My boy and his determination did not falter for the entire hour that he was there. He showed strength, technical skill, but most importantly, his spirit never dropped.
William was noticed by Master Rhee and was invited to attempt for promotion. But not to attempt for his black tip promotion. He was invited to attempt his BLACK BELT promotion. It was possible that he was going to skip an entire grade. My heart was pounding and I knew how William would be feeling. He never made eye contact with me the entire time. I knew why… I was approached by his instructor and asked for permission for my son to accept this honourable invitation. I nodded eagerly with proud tears in my eyes (oh yes, I kid you not) and said a firm yes.
What he had to do next was both intense and rigorous, all in front of approximately a hundred people. William was instructed to take part in free-sparring. He was required to face individual and multiple black belts that were more experienced and usually much taller and stronger than William. And they ran at him when Master Rhee instructed them to do so. Literally ran at him yelling and attempting to kick him and punch him simulating an attack. He had to move, and block, and attack, and protect, all the while continuing to show courage, and spirit and strength. It’s loud and intimidating but he was doing it and well. Without a break in momentum this intense 5 minutes was followed by a total of four board breaks. As in wooden boards(!) using a downwards knife hand strike, a side kick, a back kick, and a flying side kick over three members in order to smash each individual board. William had never attempted the flying side kick board break before. This is an incredibly terrifying thing to watch as a mother. Broken hands and feet are a possibility if these board breaks aren’t executed correctly.
William broke each board with his downward knife strike and two side kicks, it seemed, with ease. When it came time to do the flying side kick I could see self doubt creep across his face. He made his first attempt, cleared the three people but missed the board. Master Rhee gently spoke to him. “Run straight, lift with left leg, then fly. Focus on wall, not board.”
William did it! It was the most magical thing I have ever seen. He flew. He flew over those three people and his foot seemed to go through that board without effort (his foot ended up getting a few minor cuts). His sisters Scarlett and Stella, his brother Henry, my Mum and Dad and I launched ourselves out of our seats and clapped and cheered. And so did everyone else. It was such a powerful moment.
William later told me, “Mum I was so grateful for Masters words. I did exactly what he told me to do. But I also focused on the board and said to that board ‘you will break today’. And Mum I felt it too. Then I just ran, flew and that board broke.”
William was presented with his black belt by his instructor Kwan Jang who, over the years has become Williams mentor and friend. Kwan Jang was beyond proud of his student. William was then congratulated by Master Rhee who later told me that he was proud of his student who showed great skill and spirit. Such an honour.
My son can do anything simply because he believes that he can. This achievement has given this young man such a boost in confidence. He has just turned thirteen. He has just begun High School. He has the normal, everyday pressures that teenagers today have. He will continue to have trials in his life but he will be ok. Because he is a positive thinker, because he is a doer, because he gives things a go and shows commitment, because he is loved unconditionally by so many and because underneath it all, he has an enormous heart full of pure goodness. I am so very privileged to be this wonderful human beings Mum.
For anyone contemplating getting involved with Rhee Tae Kwon Do do not hesitate. It is an amazing organisation to be involved in. Rhee Tae Kwon Do teaches discipline, commitment, respect and encourages students to have courage and spirit within. It teaches self defence rather than aggression. Instructors are always telling their students not to be reactive and walk away from a confrontation however they learn the skills to protect themselves if needed. There are Rhee Tae Kwon Do Dojangs all around Australia. Here is the link if you are curious to find more information.