This past Sunday, I had the honor of photographing the Hapkido Black Belt promotion. In all honesty, it was probably one of the most emotional things I have ever experienced, besides the adoption of my son. I knew going into the day that it would be tough, but I was still not prepared for the emotions. On the Hapkido team there is a father/son duo that has been coming to SRMA for years. I know the son pretty well and met the father a few times. They are both pretty amazing people. Unfortunately, a couple weeks ago, the father – Walter Issacs – suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. To say the news was devastating would be an understatement. It shook our entire Do-Jang to the core. To make matters even harder for his family and the SRMA family, Sunday, he was to watch his son earn his Black Belt.
There was a sadness in the air that day as everyone went through their moves. Many eyes were red from the tears already shed and you could see the weight on their shoulders. Photographing everything was so very hard. While this was a big day, and I wanted to be sure to capture everyones moments, I really did not want to cause a disruption. Watching everyone get up to tell their personal stories about Hapkido, what it means to them and how it helped them overcome some of their darkest days was very inspirational. You almost expect to hear those types of stories when going to a promotion like this. But not to this degree. If you were to ask the doctors of one gentleman in particular…he shouldn’t even have been standing there that day, but he was. His family, friends and the Hapkido team gave him the strength to beat so many odds. Although the stories were filled with a sense of accomplishment, and the day was such an achievement, you could also see a bit of pain on their faces as you knew each one would want to pay even a small tribute to Walter. You could tell how hard it was, but they did it. Each and every one of them spoke with tear filled eyes, of his friendship, his love for Hapkido and SRMA, and all that he taught them as an assistant instructor. I sat there, on the sidelines, my eyes overflowing with tears. My heart ached…and I knew it was only going to get harder.
Eventually Mr. Walters son Dakoda stepped up. you could feel everyone in the room draw their breath in slowly…holding it in as if to somehow give him strength. He found that strength and although his essay was short and sweet, it brought everyone to complete tears. Watching him and the instructor break was one of the hardest things to have ever seen. They were all so very close. The Do-Jang was silent for what seemed like forever with the exception of sniffling and the rustling of tissue packages. Several minutes later everyone was asked to stand up and receive their new Uniforms. Deep breaths were taken by all, tears were wiped and it was back to work. The ceremony moved on with everyone receiving their 1st Dan Black Belts in Hapkido one by one. The last one being Koda. When Master Seo reached around him to tie on his fathers Black Belt you could hear the sniffling begin again. The look on their faces as they faced each other to shake hands and then hug, was enough to say that they knew Walter was there and he was proud. He always will be.
This weekend was one incredibly busy but awesome weekend! This will not be your typical Newborn Photography post BUT it is about my other love! Sports photography. Specifically Tae Kwon Do! If you know my family personally, then you know my son attends Tae Kwon Do lessons at a Do-Jang in Annapolis. Yes….Annapolis. That is a 40 mile round trip trek for us and we do it at least twice per week. It was pointed out to us that we pass several other places we could go on that trip…and that is true. However, with the exception of maybe one place, I do not think we would get allll that we get from South River Martial Arts.
Very briefly (because I really really could go on about SRMA all. day. long.), when we were first told about SRMA and Master Seo we hesitated because of the drive. I mean two lessons a week is 80 miles. Then if we want to do extra curriculars on another day…that is another 40…an overnight is another 80. It adds up. Add into that the fact that we do OT above Baltimore and now he is in school half day….it was an insane idea. But we decided to go for the 2 week trial. On day one of that trial I signed him up officially. There was this amazing atmosphere there. Here was this one guy (Master Seo) with a dozen 3 and 4 year olds (including my little guy) and he had a handle on each and every one of them. The shy ones, he brought out of their shell. The unfocused kiddos, he had a way to get them to look him dead in the eyes. The challenging personalities came around to conform to the rules. Some were easier than others but he never lost his cool, praised all of them highly and even had them giggling from time to time. It was like he sprinkled magic dust on them and they all skipped off into the Do-Jang ready to do whatever was asked. Ok maybe not quite that easy but you get it. And my son….man did he take to him. It was evident right away that this was the place to be. I spoke with other parents over the next few sessions and it just solidified my decision. It has been 2 years the end of this month since we first joined the SRMA family and I am beyond grateful for everything everyone has done for us. Like I said I could go on all day (and maybe I will post again about them)…but lets talk about the weekend…
So Friday my little guy was promoted a half step into Orange Belt (forgive me I do not know the exact terminology of his belt). This was huge for him as he was able to remember and perform 8 of the 16 steps of the Orange Belt form. With his focus issues…this was INCREDIBLE! There were SO many other promotions that night and I had the opportunity to photograph the entire test and Belt Ceremony. It was SO much fun!
Saturday Morning I hurried back to the Do-Jang to photograph the Bodan promotion and Team Eagle. Seeing so many kiddos be so close to earning their Black Belts was incredible! One little girl is not much older than my son. They had to remember several complicated forms from the past and they all did a fantastic job! And then there was my littles. Team Eagle. My son not only practices with his actual Belt class but he practices with Team Eagle as well. It gives him extra time to work on his focus, time to practice his form and also, since he is the highest rank, it teaches him to be responsible for his actions because the other kids “look up to him”. I told ya I liked this place!! We have been there since all of Team Eagle started so I was very excited to be there to take all of their photos and get to watch them receive their new belts. They were all SO adorable!
Sunday I did go back for the Hapkido promotion but I want to blog about that separately. Be on the lookout for that one! Also I do not want to blog photos of everyones kiddos without the parents permission so I will share a few of my little guy below.
Isn’t he just the cutest thing ever??!!!! I mean I get that I am biased but LOOK AT HIM! 🙂 Congratulations to all the recent graduates from Hope Lynn Photography!!!