On Friday night I witnessed an exceptional display of warrior fortitude and determination during this month’s belt promotion test. A belt test is always an opportunity to show what you’ve learned in your martial arts study and to demonstrate your mastery of the WMAC curriculum. But sometimes it becomes more than that, and in those moments the true warrior spirit shines forth.
Late in Friday’s test, after hours of running through our forms and techniques under Chungsanim Dominick’s appraising eye, she cleared the mat and requested that red belt Kat (later joined by red belt Lamyae) stand before her. Then she said, simply, “Show me all your mat skills.” At first both seemed confused by the request; you expect to be asked to demonstrate a specific form or technique, not “show me everything you’ve got.” But once they realized what was expected, they threw themselves - literally - into it.
I know from my own experience that front falls, back falls, and side falls will rapidly drain you of energy if continued for very long, and it was clear to all of us watching when Kat and Lamyae had exhausted their reserve of falls. But then they did something that was truly amazing: each reached somewhere inside herself and, without a hesitation, began to repeat the mat fall sequences over and over again. We could all see and feel how exhausted they were, and that’s why everyone spontaneously began to cheer and clap as the minutes stretched on and Kat and Lamyae threw themselves onto the mat again and again.
I’ve seen many astonishing things happen in belt tests: forms executed with breathtaking precision, techniques applied with power, focus, and efficiency. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a demonstration of simple, unquestioning heart and determination as we witnessed that night. When Kat and Lamyae received their new Hubai belts from Chungsanim, everyone knew that these two had truly earned their rank by demonstrating a part of the warrior spirit that is beyond skill and strength. Congratulations, Kat and Lamyae, warriors.