I am an artist.
In one fluid motion, I bring my fists to waist level, knees slightly bent, legs directly under shoulders. “Joon Be, sir!”
“Ki Bon Il Hyung.” First Form…
“Ki Bon Il Hyung, sir!”
My sensei’s eyes glitter with pride. He nods. “Shi Jak!”
Immediately, I turn counterclockwise forty-five degrees, down-blocking to the left…
This is Hapkido…
…Step up and punch.
…the Way of Coordinated Power…
A 180 degree turn to my right, down-block…
My bare feet move silently, smoothly, quickly on the shiny blue mat.
…Step up and punch.
…My first tournament…
A ninety degree turn counterclockwise. Another left down-block. And punch…
…here comes the Ki Hap…
…punch, punch, “Hyah!”
The tricky part now…
My left foot reaches around behind my right one. I plant my feet, pivot 275 degrees, and down-block to the left, finding myself in a perfect front stance.
Half way done…
Step up and punch. Turn clockwise, 180 degrees. Down-block right. Step up and punch…
I continue the deadly dance against my imaginary attacker with confidence, the only sound in the vast auditorium the flow of my Do Bok with each graceful movement. I take the rigid form and mold it into something beautiful. I take it and make it my own. A piece of art…a living, moving, deadly work of art.
Another 275 degree turn counterclockwise. Another down-block. Another step up, another punch.
…My last turn…
180 degrees to my left. Right down-block. Step up with a left forward punch.
I return to Joon Be.
The audience murmurs in approval. But what will the judges think?
“Cha Ryut,” my sensei calls out to me. “Koon Yet!”
I obey with a deep, respectful bow to each of the judges, thanking them. “Gam Sa Hap Ni Da.”
I am an artist. A martial artist. And this…
I bow low to the audience.
…is my art.
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