Prince Rupert has two new black belts in its midst and they haven’t even been behind the wheel of a car yet.
Christian (15) and Brandon (13) McKay were the two lone Taekwondo martial artists to be promoted to first dan (poom if under 16), or first-degree black belt, last Wednesday night at the Prince Rupert Taekwondo and Martial Arts Centre. It wasn’t an easy task.
“There was a poomsae, which is a series of moves all put together, like breaking [boards] with not only kicks but with our arms and hands and a whole bunch of push-ups and sit-ups,” said Christian.
The boys, who have been involved in the martial art for 10 years (Christian) and eight (Brandon) are an integral part of Master Paul Bozman’s centre, and it’s not often that something will phase them. Maybe just the promotion tests.
“I’ve had nerves every time we tested for a belt and when we went for tournaments [against places like Kitimat or Terrace],” said Brandon.
But they’ve embraced the philosophies of the Korean martial art and its practices from the get-go.
The art combines combat and self-defence techniques with sport and exercise and typically involves blocks, kicks and punches, open-handed strikes, take-downs, sweeps, throws and joint locks from a different stances.
The board breaks are also a pivotal part to the testing.
“[The size of the board] is determined by how powerful your kicks are,” said Brandon.
“If they’re really powerful they put two boards [together] and then they have plastic boards, but they have things to hold it together and that’s two inches. The boards we had to break were five or six inches,” added Christian.
The board breaks weren’t even the hardest component for the boys.
“Probably the pushups,” said Christian.
“We had to do about 200 of them.”
One of the best parts about having a black belt is the freedom it allows in sparring, said Christian.
“Sparring’s more fast-paced [versus] set moves that you have to define. Before black belt you couldn’t perform head kicks, but now you can,” said Christian.
And as Uncle Ben has taught generations of fighters through Spider-Man lore, with great power comes great responsibility. That includes discipline for the newest black belts.
“[Master Paul] told us that if you got into too many fights and they find out that you’re being a bully, then they’ll tell you you can’t go anymore,” said Christian.
Only eight students have achieved the rank the McKay brothers have within the past year and testing for level advancements only occur once every four months. For the boys to advance to second-degree black belt, they will have to wait for years and train even harder.
“I do know the poomsae for it, but you have to wait,” said Christian.
For it’s not only knowing the proper technique but honing your mind and developing yourself as a person that the masters want to see in the student, said the brothers.