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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

It's Good To Be Yellow

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 6/20/2024
Occurred: 1/27/2008
Page Views: 1482
Topics: #Zachary #Karate
Zachary attains his Yellow Belt in karate.

More Zachary news: On Friday, Zach went to the central karate place to be tested for his yellow belt.

Instructors face off against students. Zachary practicing "Agressive Twins"

This was a makeup exam, as Zachary had been unable to attend the massive main exam due to a conflict of circumstances when it was held. Henry Calantog, the chief instructor, told us that for that exam there were literally over a hundred kids being tested by twenty instructors. This was more manageable, with under 20 testees being present, ranging in age from a very serious three to one adult who was taking karate alongside her son. Zach was a representative of the mean average at eight.


Three rows of folding chairs had been set up for the supporters of the young warriors; I managed to get into the front row where I felt would be my only chance to get any photos at all. (Even so, I have to apologize for the lack of quality, given that the pictures were taken using available lighting only, at an inconvenient distance from the participants, with flying arms and legs apt to protrude into the picture area at any time.) The participants were encouraged to come onto the mat and warm up on their own.

That was nothing compared to the warm-up Master Calantog put them through. Intense running in place, with alternating leaps and crouches mid-step, were surely no less punishing that anything a Superbowl coach might put his players through.

Zach barely broke a sweat—and neither did the darling little three-year-old whose proud daddy sat next to me (she's on the right of the picture to the right. Zach is mid-leap.)

A proud moment came when Master Calantog picked Zachary out of the crowd to compliment him on his high kicks. Zach can easily kick higher than his head! I'm lucky if I can reach a box of Fruit Loops from the top shelf at Basha's.

Zach gets a kick out of karate.

The instructors split into three groups and the students rotated, each being tested on a technique by each group. An example of one technique tested is called "Aggressive Twins". This is a self-defense technique used when an attacker comes directly at you. The white belt kids practice this over and over; the yellow belt is given only when the technique is mastered to the point that the student no longer has to think about it. Here's a short video if you'd like to see it demonstrated.

Finally, all the kids (and the lone mom) had been tested and passed; they received their yellow belts from Master Calantog and a diploma from their own instructors, which in Zachary's case was Mr. Baker. They were then instructed to return to their line, place their new belts before them, and rub their (presumably) sweaty foreheads into the new belts, to impart their "sweat and effort" into the new piece of apparel.

Belt properly sweated in.

This comes from an old legend that the original black belts were black because they had been drenched with dirt, sweat and blood of the wearer and his opponents. The reality is, dojos (Japanese karate schools) were so notoriously clean a student with a dirty outfit wouldn't have been permitted inside to train. But the concept of giving the belt meaning by imbuing it with a part of oneself is, I think, excellent.

Zach and teacher Tom Baker.

Finally, Zach posed with his teacher (this karate school dispenses with most of the arcane Japanese terminology such as sensei and uses simpler, English terms such as "teacher" to allow concentration on the more important aspects of karate, such as not getting one's ass kicked).

We then completed the evening by going out for that traditional meal of the new yellow-belt, pizza.

Zach, yellow belt, certificate, and proud Mom Jenny.