Walking out of the Do Jang last night was different. My bag was heavier. Much heavier, as it carried for the first time a belt with black in it. Comes with a renewed commitment, even more responsibility towards those who start now, a higher, much-felt spirit of TKD and the Art, and the feeling that I am still at the beginning.

An hour earlier I was performing my Black/White belt test, after witnessing some incredible performances from other fellow students, including an amazing white-belt exit test.

My Taegeuk Chil Jang form felt almost right this time. Grandmaster Kim’s words were very encouraging and rewarding to me: “We can now see the power and the details evident in your form. The Art is starting to show”.

The scent of Black also brings increased responsibility along with the reminder that we can now potentially cause serious injury during training and beyond. I was holding the pieces of two boards in my hand, which I had shattered moments earlier with a spinning roundhouse kick, thinking: “Did I do this?” Care is required, more than ever, but thankfully as a result of our training along with the ability to generate increased power, comes the ability to harness that power.

Black on my belt also means continuing sincere respect towards my instructors. Asked to talk about my instructors and how they influence my training and daily life, I wrote on my Black/White test sheet:

“Our instructors’ personal modesty and their truly-inspiring commitment to the Art are indeed some of the prerequisites needed before they are ready to stop instructing and start teaching – a state where their influence to our training and daily life could be unique and profound. They are well on their way.”

This new belt also brings an incredible feeling of accomplishment, especially since I stretched my previous-belt training until I felt I was ready. I now feel well prepared to embark for the next milestone, which is none other than Black Belt 1st Dan itself…