After a couple years effort, Evan finally got his Junior Black Belt in Karate. I still remember when he started years ago, I had seriously doubt whether he could get to this point. We went to a studio led by a Korean sansei first to get a feel what the class looked like. I was impressed by how serious and disciplined the little kids were in the class and how strict the sansei was. He had total control of the class, the students were doing exactly what he told them to do and tried their hardest on every move. We didn’t choose this class as it was close to my work but far from home. We then chose the AmeriKick right behind our development simply for convenience. It appeared to me that the sanseis there were not as strict and the kids were having fun, very much different from the picture I saw in the other studio. I actually preferred the first one if I had a choice.
Per my observation, Even could not concentrate on the class for at least a year. He would look around when sansei was giving the lectures to the class. His kata moves didn't have the strength and discipline I saw in the other class, more like a dance move instead. He would stand in the line looking around doing whatever and then listen for a little bit, copy a couple of moves. For about a year and probably even longer, he was like that and I wondered how many kara moves he actually learned and remembered. I remember asking sansei Lauren Ann back then whether we should withdraw him since it didn't appear he was learning. To my total surprise, sansei Lori Ann was not worried at all and told me just to give him some time. "He will get it" she said. And years after, he indeed made it.
As part of junior black belt test, he had to create a 3-minute kata of his own. I took him to a number of pre-test classes which ran for two hours each. Compared to katas from other kids, I thought his kata was very good, if not the best, fully took advantage of his excellent kicking skills. He always got compliment from Sansei Richard and not all the kids got that. Evan is also very good at sparring.
During the black belt ceremony, after each kid's kata performance, Sansei Rich would call the kid onto the stage and make some comments on their journey to the black belt. When it was Evan's turn, Sansei Rich said the following: "I was talking to a couple of guys the other day. We said we could never tell if you are happy, you are sad (you could hear laughter in the audience), you are paying attention to me, you are listening, although whenever we asked you a question you knew the answer. And whenever we put you on the spot (Sansei Rich laughed here), you get it done. You got nick-named “the beast” especially after that sparring. The work you did at the testing was fantastic, dude. Now I’d like you to just say one sentence" He put the microphone close to Evan's mouth. Of course Evan just curved up his mouth and stared at him, then at the audience who started laughing. "Okay, thanks! Give it for Evan!" Sansei Rich gave up. He raised his hand and Evan high fived him hard and jumped off the stage.
I thought those comments were great! What's funny was that my captain also said the same thing about me that he could not tell whether I enjoyed playing with the team or not. The truth is I do show emotions when I get “high” playing but depending on whom I play with, I don’t usually get “high” unless I am playing a tournament. After the ceremony, the whole family got together. I mentioned about the comment, both Olivia and Dad also said similar comments were made about them too on playing volleyball. It was hilarious! Evan laughed and summarized "We are a family who don't show our emotions" hahaha...