On Saturday, September 26 Drew tested for his last belt before black belt. Can you tell he's a little nervous in the picture above? (Because, he was super nervous!)
We have been back and forth, arguing points on both sides for letting him test or not. Recently, Mike and I made the choice to not test for awhile. We have hit a point were we really want to make sure that we are pushing ourselves to our fullest potential and not just coasting. Once that choice was made for ourselves it made me question if Drew was ready for his black belt as well. It's important to us that he is pushed to his potential too.
After a few discussions about it with Drew and lots of observations I came to this:
• He shows up to class and pushes himself. Even when he sees that he doesn't have to. He could coast. He could do the bare minimum. He could slack and put little effort into it. He knows that, we've talked about it many times, and he still doesn't do it. Drew watched the kid next to him at testing do his 10 side kicks by holding his foot on the shield and counting to ten, and that kid still passed. He knows, he sees it, and he chooses to be better than that. (Part of that might be because he knows that if he doesn't push himself, that I'm going to push him. If I saw him do that at testing with his side kicks I would have walked over there myself and made him do them the correct way.)
• No matter what point he is at, he always wants to be better. He has to do 25 push ups as part of his black belt testing. He told me the other day that he knows he can do 25 so he's going to push it to 30. He knows that there is always room to be better and applies this to what he does in class. (I am super proud of this one!)
• He's not afraid to challenge himself. I've watched him do this with board breaks many times. Sometime before class I will give him a challenge. For example, I will tell him to concentrate on not leaning too far over when he does side kicks or to try and throw more combinations in sparring. He always steps up to the challenge. He might groan and fight me on it a little but when it comes down to it, he gets out there and does it.
• He listens and uses what the instructors tell him to do. Because of this he has an awesome front leg side kick that always does well for him in sparring.
We've watched him score at point sparring with kids well above him in rank because of this kick. And, it's not just the kick that is awesome, it's the timing too. I told him he needs to teach me how to do it so well!
• When they do point sparring he never has a bad attitude. If someone gets him out he high fives them, smiles, and says "Good job!" I've seen him two or three times get hurt and cry a little but he is kind and respectful to those that he is sparring.
• He is honest in is work. If they tell the class to do 10 push-ups, he does 10 push-ups. He doesn't wait until the instructor isn't looking and stops. He doesn't try to be the first one done and push out five bad, speedy push-ups. He just does them.
• He makes a point to compliment someone when they do something good. It started as a challenge I would give him, (find five people in class and give them a compliment), and became a habit.
• He is willing to learn from his peers, even those below him in belt rank. If someone tells him something he's doing wrong or they give him a tip, he's is pretty good about taking it with a smile and genuine gratitude.
• He has been committed. This is the first time that he has committed to something and followed through with it. And, it wasn't a little commitment. This was a three years, every week, 3-5 days a week commitment.
It was because of all of the above that the choice was made to let him test.
I talked to Drew about what his "black belt journey" was all about and I'm not even sure that he understands what this all means to him just yet. It might take him years to be able to comprehend what it means to him. It might actually mean nothing to him. I don't know. I can't decide that for him.
What I can do is take pride when I stand behind him and that black belt is tied on his waist in November. If I were the one to decide it, he has earned it.
I am proud of him.