A week ago tonight, I accompanied my old friend Jeff Pitts to his Tae Kwon Do dojo for Buddy Night. Jeff didn't really say what "Buddy Night" was all about, so I was a little nervous at first. Was I to be used as some kind of practice dummy for his blows? My friends shouting "500 quatloos for the video!" in email didn't do much to inspire confidence, either.
Of course I didn't really have anything to worry about. Buddy Night is simply an opportunity for friends and family members of students to experience a class for themselves. Jeff already has his blue belt/red stripe, and he's on track to get his black belt by next summer, so this gentle Buddy Night class was a bit of a breeze for him - but educational for me.
Most of the students were children, with a smattering of teenagers and thirty- and fortysomethings tossed in. We began sensibly enough with a series of stretches, then learned how to block, punch and kick properly. All very basic, but still fascinating. I always knew that Jeff was in good shape, but holding targets for his kicks and punches was a little jarring - both physically and intellectually. There's a lot of power behind Jeff's blows, and I'm very glad that he was on target.
We even had a chance to break boards, in a sense - plastic practice boards with pre-set fracture points of varying strength levels. I have to admit, there's something cathartic about yelling "keee-yaai!" and smashing a board in half with your fist.
Most impressive was the demonstration put on by a group of advanced students. These young people staged mock battles, broke real boards, even bounced off the walls, all with confidence, grace and athleticism.
Jeff needs to bring in a certain number of buddies before he can advance in level, so I'm glad that my participation allowed him to move forward. I'm also grateful for the opportunity to catch a glimpse of another way of life that's somewhat outside my experience. We can all use a little horizon-broadening from time to time.
I only regret that I didn't bring someone along to take photos. Perhaps Jeff and the dojo will allow me to take some pictures of Jeff's graduation tests.