After deciding to attempt to go my 2nd degree back in March 1997 I felt
reasonably confident that I would be successful, after all I trained hard
practised over & over again all that I needed to know.

That particular pre-grading was probably the worst experience I ever had in all my time of practising Tae kwon Do.  Right from the word go it felt as though it was me against the chief examiner, & no matter how hard I tried to impress him it was never going to be good enough. This was going to be an almighty battle one which I was willing to take on but every obstacle seem to get stronger as I had no answer for his criticism.  I was made to feel small and not worthy of holding the coveted Black Belt I had earned 18 months earlier.

That night on my return home it was no surprise when I rang Mr. Bryan (my  instructor) that the examiner had already been on the phone telling him what he thought of my performance that day.  I felt like just giving up & calling it a day.  But encouraging word from Mr. Bryan, Stuart & John, gave the belief I could cross this bridge.

Two Sundays Later I was back full of confidence & ready to prove the  examination committee that I was ready for the challenge ahead.

No surprise I was the first one up for patterns, all of which where successfully
executed, then came the foot sparring followed by free sparring & 2 V 1 sparring, all of which went well. Then came the final element Breaking. I was 5th in order of play. I stood their physcing myself up. It was now my turn, measure up I heard in the background. I proceeded to measure up, now break he said.  1st attempt it didn't break. Break he said I jumped with sheer
determination, it went through. One down one to go. It was the same procedure with the other leg. 1st attempt again it didn't break, 2nd attempt my foot caught the bottom of the holder thus breaking my toe & splitting it open, I knew deep down it was over & I had failed but I still had one
attempt.  Do you wish to take your final attempt Mr. Clarke? I said yes but the body said no way & all I succeeded to do was place my foot on the board.

It took 3 months for foot to heel, but the psychological damage remained.   September was the next available grading. I attempted to grade but again was unsuccessful with destruction. The bad thing was that if I had broken I would of come away with a merit pass.

I knew I had to get over my psychological  fear of hurting my foot, I knew I could do the technique, it was a question of persuading my mind it could be done.  The funny thing was, put a focus mitt in front of me, no problem as soon as it was a board the vision kept coming back & the leg wouldn't lock out.  I never gave up practising. For a solid 18 months I kept practising over & over until eventually I was consistently breaking with recurrence of pain to my toe.

As most of you know, I finally decided to go for my 2nd degree in September of 99 & was successful in achieving what I set to achieve some 3 years ago.

I would to thank Mr. Bryan, Mr. Anslow & Mr. O'Connor with all their help & never losing faith in my ability to gain my grade of 2nd degree.

Basically what I am saying at the end of the day, if you really want something & your willing to work for it then there is no reason why you shouldn't obtain it & if you should happen to be unsuccessful then, try & try
again, it takes a strong person to get up dust themselves off and do it all over again. Trust me I've been there.

Perserverance Was The Key
by Derrick Clarke II