First Degree Black Belt
Woohoo! I can officially say I’m a black belt and getting it felt even better than expected. For years, I looked down and saw varying degrees of brown belt. Now I look down with the biggest smile on my face seeing a black belt with my name on it alongside the name of my martial arts school, Villatuya’s Academy of Tae Kwon Do. Getting through and passing my black belt test was an incredible feeling.
My family came in from San Francisco and I was honored to have one of our dearest friends, Ma’am Net Dancel of Dancel’s Academy of Tae Kwon Do fly in along with one of her black belts, Ma’am Jeanine De Los Reyes. These are strong women I admire.
There is quite a history leading up to this black belt.
The First Black Belt
If you’ve been following this blog journey then you would know that my sister, Ma’am Polly Villatuya, was her instructor’s first black belt at Lawler’s Tae Kwon Do in California. More than 700 black belts have come after her. While I studied gymnastics, my sis studied Tae Kwon Do right next door. I quit gymnastics 3 years later, and shortly after joined Tae Kwon Do. I made it all the way to Advanced Brown Belt and then 6 months away from my black belt test, I quit. I tried again in my 20’s and moved away about 6 months before I could test for black belt. For more than 20 years, I sat through many black belt tests that followed, always thinking, that should be me. I had the opportunity to be the next female black belt in line after my sister and I blew it. I saw dear friends train at Lawler’s after me, including Ma’am Net, and cheered them on as they achieved their black belt. As Ma’am Net has built a thriving Tae Kwon Do school in San Bruno, CA I have sat on the sidelines watching my sis and other friends sit at the black belt table, all the while, secretly wishing I could sit there too…but knowing I hadn’t earned the right.
My sister has helped two of her former students launch their schools but she finally launched her own, Villatuya’s Academy of Tae Kwon Do in St. George, UT a few years ago. On May 24, 2014, I officially became my sister’s first black belt! When I first saw my certificate, I looked on the bottom right and saw Chronological Order and the number 1. I can’t even began to explain how seeing that made me feel. Black Belt #1 of Villatuya’s Academy of Tae Kwon Do. All those moments of feeling incomplete and those internal self taunts about being a “quitter”…were totally silenced once and for all. Redemption! As important as this day was for me, I know it was equally important to my sister. That is also why I know I needed to push past my shoulder injury and work harder than ever to make sure I represented well for her…as well as for me.
My black test was nerve wracking and exhilarating all at the same time! I was winded between segments and found myself having to manage my shoulder pain 1/3 of the way through. I found myself praying extra hard at the midway point for the ability to finish…and finish strong. Afterwards, I learned that my supporters were covering me in prayers as well, and I totally felt it! I heard from several of them that I had stressed them out as their stomachs were in knots, too. They were with me every step of the way. I was surrounded in love and support and I was so very grateful.
I had my Shock Doctor shoulder support on under my gi along with a mixture of anti-inflammatory essential oils to keep my shoulder warm. I gave all I had to every form, target and bag kick, punch and one step technique. Then we capped off the test with board breaking. I’m proud to report I was able to break the board with a step-in side kick and a jump turn back kick on the first try! Phew! It helped that my husband held the board for me (and not because I was letting pent up aggression out on him), but because he has been an absolute rock for me in this whole process.
The actual Black Belt ceremony included my sister / instructor putting my black belt around her waist first, to symbolize the passing on of knowledge. As I watched my sister do this, I wept quietly. I knew this was one of those moments in my life I would never forget.
As she then proceeded to tie my new black belt around my waist, I felt completely elated. Together we had accomplished something significant in our lives. I love my sister immensely and have always respected her loyalty, work ethic, discipline, integrity and wisdom. These are characteristics that are the fruits of her 30+ years of Tae Kwon Do training and spiritual life.
While she is one of my best friends in life and we share many inside jokes and goofy moments together, when it comes to Tae Kwon Do training, we take it seriously and there is an unspoken boundary of respect we draw, where I willingly and respectfully defer to her authority.
And as for sitting at the black belt table, before she left, Ma’am Net issued me an invitation to her upcoming Black Belt Extravanganza where…you guessed it, I will be sitting alongside my peers in a seat I have rightfully earned.
Highlights of the first black belt test at Villatuya’s Academy of Tae Kwon Do:
Ia Jimenez demonstrates a Board Break with a Step-in Side Kick:
Ia Jimenez demonstrates a Board Break with a Jump Turn Back Kick:
Black Belt Test at Villatuya’s Academy of Tae Kwon Do Photo Album:
Click here to view the album.