Saturday, February 28, 2009
Meet Mr. Blue Belt
Today was a big day for us... Henry took his blue belt test at tae kwon do. He has been practicing for a long time, learning the kicks, blocks, punches, and forms necessary to progress to the next level. He did a great job and definitely earned his belt. I was really proud of him and his perseverance. The test is LONG -- almost two and half hours. There were about 14 kids being tested at all levels from white belts up to a red belt. So a lot of the test time is spent sitting still and quietly, while others are being tested (in small groups and individually depending on skill levels), and he sat quietly with the group with much less fidgeting than I have ever seen (not even one reprimand from the instructor, and others were called out for fidgeting, talking, etc. -- and H certainly has been in the past). He never even had to be reminded to pay attention.
Because my DH was leaving on a trip tonight and had a plane to catch, the instructor actually planned to complete Henry's test early (and not make Henry break a board this time) so we could leave before the test was finished . So she tested Henry, quietly told him he had passed and that he could leave the mat, and we got ready to go. Henry then announced he wanted to stay (I stayed with him while my DH and my wonderful mother-in-law (who came for moral support) headed home) and finish the testing -- wow, a chance to leave deliberately not taken! He bowed back in appropriately and took his place again.
When it came time to break boards, his instructor told Henry which kick to do and I think auditory processing got the best of Henry and he did a different practice kick (a hook kick) (they do a couple of soft practice kicks at the board to get aim etc. right then the "real" one at full power (or more than one if needed)). The instructor asked if he was sure he wanted to do the hook kick -- it is more difficult and less powerful than the kick he was supposed to do and she reminded him of this. He assured her that he did, and then, on his second or third try broke the board with a beautiful, spot on kick! The instructor turned to all the parents and told them that they may not realize what a difficult task it was to break the board with that particular kick!!! I was beaming.
Tae kwon do has been great for him. He now takes class several times a week. When he started, he, frankly, stood out -- so fidgety, so uncoordinated, so unable to follow the oral instructions at all (he watched the other kids and tried to imitate). They really made a lot of accommodations for Henry when he started and now really not so much!!! Now, he is SOOOO much better -- even if it is really hard, he tries his best (he used to tell the instructor ALL the time he was too tired or it was too hard (not a hit in tae kwon do, let me tell you!). He actually led the class in warm up recently, instructing the other kids on warm up exercises! He chooses to count in Korean when given the choice of Korean and English. He sometimes chats with his classmates. He memorizes these complicated forms... It is so nice to see the change in him and the instructors have even told us how they cannot believe how far he has come.
Our behavioral optometrist, Melvin Kaplan, recommended this for Henry and we thank him every day for encouraging us to try this with Henry.