Put the kettle on and make yourself a cup of tea while I tell you the story of how I got my 3rd Dan in taekwondo. And I announce the winner of my competition …
Last week I left you mid-description, comparing my 3rd Dan grading in taekwondo to giving birth. Not that I’d know of course, but I know what enduring a Dan grading is like – I've done three of them and my stretch marks are yellow stripes on a black belt.
Months of preparation went into the training, and then there’s learning the theory. Now I’m sure that learning the phrase ‘bandae dollyo goro chagi’ (reverse turning hooking kick) is useful in some universes but not much good when you’re in a bar in Seoul. And God help you if you’re in a bar in Pyongyang and the only Korean you know is ‘jungi joomuk’ (middle knuckle fist) as the men in uniform will be coming to arrest your imperialist backside.
The day came and I was standing around in my freshly ironed dobok (training suit – or white pyjamas to muggles) trying to look as if I knew what I was doing. The last time I’d bothered to iron my dobok was four year ago when I did my 2nd Dan, but you know when I’m being serious because I’d painted my toe nails a sensible colour and not my usual harlot red. Like that would make any difference. My name was called out, I took my place (thankfully at the back of the hall) and I was in the peak of physical condition. Except my right hamstring was a bit tight, my feet hurt and I needed another wee.
Floor work was fine, only went forwards when I was supposed to go backwards once. Although my jumping reverse kicks did look like my hamster was doing them rather than her owner. Then there were the patterns. We only had to do five of them, I was expecting seven, but I did manage to finish one facing entirely the wrong way round. Oops, hope no-one noticed. Step-sparring went well but my partner did throw me around like a she was drying her laundry but I just kept it simple. Why spend all that time fannying around when you can just kick someone in the head in one shot?
I thought I’d blown it but it was time for sparring, and I know I can do that well. Except, when I opened my bag, I couldn't find my gum shield. Oh buggeration. I had one brief moment of sheer terror, which was replaced by relief when someone shoved their spare gum shield into my hand. Ew, you may cry, but needs must and I chucked into my mouth and sparred by backside off. Hell yeah!
So that was it, grading over. I was a wreck, so me and my friend went out and got completely wasted. It would be rude not to. I felt like hell the next morning, thank God for Ray-Bans – and for those who've read The Ghost Hunters’ Club – I did Linda proud. I had several days of nail-biting, going from ‘Oh who wants to be a 3rd Dan anyway’ to contemplating jumping out of my living room window. I passed. I've got my extra stripe on my belt, and thank God I don’t have to do that again in a hurry.
To celebrate, I bought a new Kindle Paperwhite – shiny shiny – and gave my mum my old one. The first book I read, keeping with the Korean theme, was Nothing to Envy: Real lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick, which is the story of how some people managed to defect from North Korea. An absolute page-turner and it left me walking round looking at the world we live in in a new light. We really take our first-world lives and liberty for granted and it got me thinking, we are so lucky to be able to say and write what we like. Freedom of speech is a precious thing and that goes for being and indie author on Amazon too. We can write and publish what we want and the only people we have to answer to are our readers. Of course, if I was to be offered an agent’s contract and a publishing deal … oh I’m so first-world but I have no morals and I need the cash.
It’s time to announce the winner of my first competition. And it’s my friend Sophie from taekwondo! Not just because she fits into the theme of the post but because she suggested that the Writers and Artists Yearbook of 2013 could be used as a weapon as well as a handy and informative guide to the publishing world. And she’s going to Japan soon to study, which is cool, so she’ll need something to read. Well done Sophie!