A Taekwondo grading means more than just demonstrating a series of moves in front of an examiner. For children, they must prepare by showing respect to their family, behaving politely, making their beds, cleaning their rooms etc.
I’m not kidding. Out comes my son from his class last Monday clutching his envelope. It gave the time and date of the grading as Saturday at 12pm – as in five days later. You don’t get much warning.
On the front of this envelope is a list of ‘jobs’ that the children are expected to do and you have to tick them off each day. How lovely it would be if every week was a Taekwondo grading week! Is this the answer to perfectly behaved children? You threaten them that they won’t get a new colour/striped belt if they don’t conform.
On top of this, the children have to answer some questions at the grading itself. You find these in the grading hand book. I’m going to tell you the questions my son had to learn and I want you to bear in mind that he is five years old. See what you think:
1. Where does Taekwondo come from?
2. What does Taekwondo mean?
Answer: the art of the hand and foot
3. What are the tenets of Taekwondo?
Answer: integrity, self control, perseverance, indomitable spirit, courtesy
4. What is the first line of the student oath?
Answer: I shall observe the tenets of Taekwondo
5. What does courtesy mean?
Answer: to be polite
6. What is a training hall called?
Answer: a dojang
7. When do you bow?
Answer: when you enter and leave the dojang and before and after you speak to the instructor
8. Why do you bow?
Answer: it is polite
9. What are the magic words?
Answer: please, thank you, yes miss/yes sir, no miss/no sir
10. What does it mean to sit still and not move?
Answer: self control
I thought no way can they expect a five year old to learn all these. But learn them he did and by Saturday we were all rattling off the answers!
I was filled with admiration watching my son get up and do this grading. It is a big deal for someone so young. And he nailed it and got all the questions right, so I couldn’t be more proud (he was asked the first four questions, which are tough ones).
What I learned this week – apart from a load of facts about Taekwondo (I wrote all those questions down without having to refer to the book!) – was not to underestimate my children. Yes he’s young and yes he’s my baby, but he is more than capable of holding his own. I can see that now.
So, until the next grading…