Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tested by TKD

At 8:30AM this morning, Liam tested for his brown belt in Tae Kwan Do. He's been doing karate since he was six. Has been sparring for the past year. He took a little break this summer, but is back in full force and (if everything goes according to plan) he will be testing for his black belt this time next year.

I video'ed the event, mainly so the family could see it, and Liam could study his own style. The first clip is pretty short, only about thirty seconds. They have to do their "pattern" and Karate Kid gets it right the first time. (We used to call these "katas," two decades ago when I took Kempo.) Liam and I had worked on "looking at the opponent," keeping the chin up, and doing each move cleanly, with control. I thought he did a great job, until the last kick, when he over-rotated. But he passed this stage with flying colors.

The second clip is much longer, almost seven minutes. It's the sparring stage, where he puts his skills to actual use. And Liam looooooves sparring. He's a completely different kid when he puts on the gloves. He's aggressive and looks to dominate his opponent. He studies them and figures out their style, then adapts his and tries to "fight his fight," not letting the other kid control the match. He listens well and incorporates most of the things we do when we train. As a father, it is an absolute pleasure to watch.

The first match is against Trey. That kid is always hyper and bullish. But when the instructor says, "Fight," watch Liam rush across the mat and force Trey backwards. At one point, Trey tries a jumping front kick, but Liam stuffs a front kick on him. And sometime Trey pops Liam on the side of the head. Liam doesn't dig that at all. A few seconds later Liam pops the kid in the chin, and Trey looks up at the instructor like, "Ow! He hit me!" He didn't try any more headshots.

The second fight is actually against a Senior Brown Belt. The kid is really good and keeps Liam on his toes. I was proud to see Liam chaining up a bunch of good combinations, mostly punch-punch-kick, a couple of double kicks, and even some crescent kicks. Throughout all the matches, he throws a good number of jumping front kicks. He just started doing that! And I was proud to see him do it so aggressively and so repeatedly.

The third fight was a complete surprise. The brown belts needed one more person to have even numbers, and the Instructors picked Liam. The third kid was a brown belt and had at least twenty pounds on Liam. If he wasn't winded from the first two matches, I think Liam could have run circles around the guy. At one point, Liam gets tripped, but he hops right up. And he didn't back down! First time he ever fought three rounds back to back. He loved all of it.

Unofficially, he's a brown belt. Officially, we're all very proud of him.

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