When I was in school, I participated in two extracurricular activities: Karate and Violin. I’ll explain my experiences with Karate first and then go on to violin.
In my type of karate there are a number of ranks and they are, white, orange, green with one & two stripes then red with the same as green, then blue belt with a number of steps in the blue belt. I hope for my sake that when my former master reads this I don’t get anything wrong. I have some coordination problems too but the teacher, who wasn’t a master at that time said that was alright and to just try my best. He was and still is a very nice man; he had a very nice dog that he would bring to the studio before class started sometimes. So I began training as a white belt; there are a number of forms and techniques that one must learn to advance in rank. At the beginning of class we would stand in a horizontal line across the studio and that’s how we would learn new techniques. They would be demonstrated in the front of the room and usually I could see what they were doing but someone would go around the room and have everyone perform the move just make sure everything was being done correctly. Then we would break off into groups to practice the particular move. Then these moves would be put together into forms. In addition to this physical part there was also a book part too. One had to memorize names and these were mostly names of the techniques that we learned. They were in Korean, which was kind of interesting.
I slowly advanced in rank and as I did, predictably the moves and forms got progressively harder. For the advancement tests, in addition to the forms and terms, the last part was to break a board with a hand or foot move. Sometimes, because of my balance the technique was different for me. I did pass all of the tests, it’s just sometimes it took me a bit longer to get to the point that I was judged ready to take the test. At a certain point we learned sweeping techniques and the brooms were your legs. You had to do the sweep right though or the person’s legs wouldn’t buckle. It never occurred to me until later but I wonder if I could have done techniques with my cane. Oh well, we didn’t use any kind of weapon other than hands and feet and considering I can’t see, maybe it’s for the better that I never inquired.
After advancing in rank to red belt, with two lengths of tape signifying stripes, it took a little while but I finally got my blue belt. When you get your blue belt, you are called Mr. and then your last name. After achieving blue belt it is not proper to use that person’s full name. I can’t recall exactly when but during that time our teacher received his master’s rank, which is the blue belt with one red stripe running its length. Also, there was another change; our studio had to close and we went to another studio. The class was larger and there wasn’t the same atmosphere, even though we were being taught by our master and another. Sometime after this my brother and I stopped going, our old master was the only one there that night and telling him that we were quitting was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
I had the intention of telling you about violin too but I ran too long. Therefore, I will leave it until next entry.