The original plan was for me to take my taekgyeon blackbelt (known as 한동, or handong) test in March in Ulsan. However, because missed so much training over winter break due to travel, my taekgyeon master decided that I wasn't quite ready this month. And since the blackbelt tests are only held every three months, I will now have to wait until June.
This isn't a big deal for me. Had I taken the test in March, I'd have had less than a year of training. I know I'm not ready; I still can't get the hang of the roundhouse kick. A part of me really wanted to impress 관장님 by passing the test despite my relative inexperience, but honestly, I'm okay with having one less thing to stress out over right now.
Instead of the blackbelt test, tonight at training we had what I think is called a 시합 (sihap), which translates to "match", like a boxing match. I've been training with another guy who's in his late forties, so we were conveniently paired up for the match. I figured it was some sort of diagnostic test, because 관장님 set up a table and took notes on our performance in order to critique us at the end.
We did the taekgyeon forms (본때배기) and then sparred a little bit. During wrestling (대거리), I wound up flat on my back twice, which was embarrassing, but 관장님 said that even though I technically lost, my form and technique were still good. They weren't so good for the forms, though. I've done the same routine almost every weekday for ten months, but I still don't have it down perfectly yet. Sigh. I also need to work on flexibility: they want me to be able to do a passable side split by June. Yup, like that's totally going to happen. "Every day, 매일매일," said 관장님.
The 시합 was a short affair. We ended the session about twenty minutes early and then celebrated by going to a bar for chicken and beer. I enjoy spending time with the taekgyeon guys, even though I usually don't follow the conversation well. I could figure out the topic, but they spoke too fast for me to understand everything they said, let alone butt in and add my own thoughts. But every once in a while, 관장님 would turn to me and ask me what would seem like a non sequitur: "Andrew, do you know air-con gas?" (Freon.) "Andrew, do you know trot (트로트, a Korean music genre kind of like retro pop)?" "Andrew, are you a Christian?"
To that last question I answered in the affirmative, to the surprise of my fellow taekgyeon trainee. He assumed that Christians weren't allowed to drink alcohol. I told them that in the Bible, Jesus once turned water into wine for a party, and also that Paul once advised Timothy to drink a little wine for his health. I even showed them the relevant Bible verses on my phone.
On a related note, I also took a 체성분 분석결과 ("Body Composition Analysis") at the dojang few weeks ago. I stood on a machine that calculated my height, weight, heart rate, and other unknown statistics, and then it spit out a page of numbers that declared my body age to be 22 and my body type to be standard, slightly muscular. Somehow, it also calculated my body fat percentage, basal metabolic rate, daily caloric requirement, and how much of my body is made up of water (38.1kg, to be exact).
I'm not quite sure how one machine that didn't even require me to strip down or get my heart rate up figured all of that out, but the important part is that 관장님 was pleased with the results. I'll take it as a sign of progress since I began taekgyeon training one year ago.