Which white-belt are you?

Today I had to administer a Taekwondo test.

There are three white belts who attend my classes on Monday and Wednesday, and I had really hope that all three of these students would be eligible to test this weekend. Unfortunately, one of the major criteria for testing, is knowing your form.

The forms that we do are a series of prescribed movements each student must learn and memorize and be able to do without help in order to pass their next rank. The first form, the white belt form, it's always especially difficult. Not because the movements are difficult, but because it's the first time that the students had to memorize these multiple steps in a prescribed format.

They have to remember how to turn around so they get the right foot facing forward, they have to remember which moves are reverse and which are straight (taekwondo terms), they have to remember all kinds of tiny details. So of course, it can get a little bit overwhelming.

And trust me, I understand. When I first learned that form, I cried because I was so overwhelmed and such a perfectionist.

Back to my white belts.

For the most part, these students have been taking it pretty seriously. They've studied, they learned, and even though they've had several times where I've had to re-teach them the same bar, they've come back in knowing it.

Well - two of them have.

Despite warnings that the student needs to practice his form at home, having his parents purchase a DVD with training on the DVD for the forms and encouraging him again and again to practice daily with the DVD, he would only come to class once a week, and have completely forgotten everything I taught him about his form by the time he came back.

Motivational quotes - habit is what keeps you going! Build positive habits.

When we set the date for the test, almost a month ago, I warned him that he would have to know his entire form by the Monday prior to the test in order to test. As we got closer, I continued to warn him that he needed to be practicing his form and he continued to come to class, unable to get even half-way through the form.

On the Monday prior to the test, he didn't even show up for class. I pretested the other students, and thought that was the end of it - most students that miss the ability to test for the first time tend to disappear from the school.

But he showed up on Wednesday and just in case, I watched his form through-out class and did a couple extra exercises to help him show me how much he knew. For the first time, he was trying hard and giving his earnest best. He watched the other students and tried to mimic their movements to at least finish the form, but used incorrect kicks, incorrect legs, etc.

At the end of class, he came to me asking what time he should show up on Saturday and I had to tell him that he wasn't eligible for testing. He insisted he knew the form, so I asked him to show me and, once again, couldn't finish the form. I was hard to tell a kid who had finally showed up with energy and focus that he couldn't test.

Here I was watching a seven year old boy do his best, work extremely hard, and put a lot of energy into his form and I couldn't reward him for that with the reward he was hoping for!

But like so many of us, he waited to get properly motivated until it was too late to impact the outcome.

What's sad is that we, as adults, do the same thing. Over and over and over again. We wait until it's too late to ask for help, we wait until it's too late to change what we're doing to change the outcome.

Then we wonder why we don't get our next advancement.

"Like so many of us, he waited to get properly motivated until it was too late to impact the outcome.

Person after person after person over the past few weeks has come to me wanting help, but on their timetable. I've been promised repeatedly that after they finish fixing their problems for themselves, they are looking forward to getting help.

My question: with what? The problem you can't figure out a solution to?

The problem is, you will never run into an obstacle or a problem that you cannot find a solution for. We, as human beings, are extremely inventive. We will always find a solution.

But that does not mean it's the best solution. And often times we'd find ourselves continuing to struggle and flounder substantially longer than we should, because we wait too long to adjust our course. Just like my student did this week.

As I drove home that evening, I seriously questioned whether or not I done the right thing by refusing to allow the student to test. When a student is a white belt, the likelihood that they're going to continue the program after as disappointment like that, substantially decreases!

There's a chance I'll never see this kid again and he'll quit taekwondo after this disappointment. But taekwondo is about more than just ranking up and getting to black belt, it's more than just doing your forms, and it's more than doing good technique. Taekwondo is about personal growth and I take it very seriously that I have the opportunity to help craft these kids into people that anyone would be proud to know or work with.

If I had allowed him to test, I feel the lesson would not have been learned and the very thing that is driving me crazy with potential clients would have only been continued to be allowed to persist.

My goal, is to help adults out there see that you can't wait till the last minute to make changes in your life and expect to reasonably change your outcome.

Right now, we have too many adults out there who never bothered learning that lesson: that you can't wait until the last minute to complete your practice and your preparation. You can't wait until you're already drowning to try and get help. So if I can teach him that lesson now, maybe I can make a difference in at least one child's life.