I started the day early getting up at 4:00 am. Master DiGloria arrived at my home at about 5:00 am and we took the time to have a nice cup of Italian espresso. We then made our way to Logan Airport for our flight to Philadelphia. It may have been the espresso, but I was getting excited about training with the ATA masters found in that region. At security I was glad to go through the scanner rather than the metal detector. With the metal detector, I am regularly getting checked by security because my hip replacement sets off the detector. With the scanner I am allowed to move right through. It must be easy for them to see that in a small way, I am bionic.
We arrived in Philadelphia and were met by Master Robinson who took us to his dojang. He has a beautiful dojang housed in a building overlooking the church that owns it. Between the church and the building is an historic cemetery once used for the parishioners from that church. There were some very old dates on the tomb stones. Those people lived in a world with no cars, no rocket ships to Mars, and no cell phones. Yet, like us, those people must have loved, were sad in their losses, and felt joy in their triumphs. I felt a connection to them though we were centuries apart.
We held a regional black belt test at Master Robinson’s dojang. Masters Diffendal, Pinkas, Moore, and Knudson drove from as far as seven hours away to help support a very important moment in the lives of those testing. The test went pretty well, with some obvious glares that the testers will have to work on and improve before they could receive their promotions. However if the glares are not improved, they will have to re-test at the next regional black belt test. As always, it was wonderful to see the support from the testers’ families and friends. Adults and children alike had people observing the test that were more nervous and excited about the test than even the testers themselves.
When the test ended we took a meal break and then came back to the dojang to work out. Initially we focused on going over and practicing what were some deficiencies I saw during the test. Later when the red belts and black belts left, the masters and I practiced. The masters and I practiced advanced techniques for 4 1/2 hours. We were surprised at the passing of time, we were so focused on training and improving.
When we were done we felt ready for bed. But we got back to our hotels, got washed up, and went out to dinner. We had a lot of laughs telling each other old stories about our own early years in Tang Soo Do. With all the years of experience we had at the dinner table there were some great stories. Next morning I got together with the masters again and we worked out another 3 ½ hours. We were drenched, tired, and happy.
Later that evening Master DiGloria and I got on the plane back to Boston. The flight back wasn’t as cozy as the one to Philadelphia. There were thunder storms over Boston and the turbulence was heavy. The window shade next to me was up and I caught the flashes of lighting over the plane’s wings as the turbulence shook us and dropped us faster than any of us would have liked. The plane had a great crew that made things as stress free as possible for those that needed it. I am always amazed at the skill that pilots have to get a big aluminum tube with wings safely off the ground, into the air, and back on the ground again.