In May of 2014 I traveled to Hawaii for my 7th degree Black belt rank test. During my stay I was relaxed, confident and well prepared. The night before my test I was supposed to go to Master Bob Smith's school to get acclimated with the school layout, etc. I decided to skip the pre-test and rest and relax. The floor seemed exactly the same as the floor in my school. I saw no difference at all. I was excited and ready to rock when my name was called and ran to my starting position.
I bowed to my Grand Master Kang (who built my TKD foundation from white belt to 1st degree Black belt) and proceeded to preform the Hyung Tong-Il. I have done that pattern thousands of times getting ready for that moment and hit every move with all my speed and strength. On one of the moves as I stepped to the L- Stance, my left foot stuck and I severely rolled over on my ankle. The pain was significant. I actually seemed to "blackout" for a moment but I tried to proceed to the next move. My body was shaking and I lost my composure when the next move caused me to stop.
I bowed and came to one knee praying for Jesus to heal my ankle. I continued for a few moments fighting off the fear and disappointment that had come upon me. I respectfully bowed out and stepped (limped) to the side trying not to disrupt a belt rank grading for a host of other young students. As, I exited the floor the kids from Master Smith's school were holding their hands out for a high five and I gratefully accepted their encouragement. They were saying "You are going to be ok, we are praying for you". Wow, I was so impressed by their comments to me I almost started to tear up a little.
Master Bob Smith (who is also a PMC Anti-Terrorism Task Force instructor) proceeded to get a big block of ice and tightly taped it to my ankle. Grand Master Kang was genuinely concerned for my welfare. I laid on my back for what seemed an eternity (probably 20 minutes ) while the test resumed. I continued to pray in the spirit casting off fear and speaking healing over my ankle. After some time passed Master Bob Smith and Grand Master Kang came over to check on me. I looked up to see their faces and they said " Well ?". I jumped up in faith and remember saying " I didn't fly 2000 miles to quit". I jumped up and down a few times and hit the floor once again to be greeted by Master Smith's students (so humbled by their encouragement). I was full of the spirit of God and adrenaline when I executed the formal pattern and hit everything as if no injury had occurred.
Next was a free fighting pattern. Then I remembered, this pattern has at least 7 jumping kicks. The spirit of fear tried to come upon me again but I just whispered "no, in the mighty name of Jesus the messiah". I fired off the fastest, most powerful kicks I was capable of in that moment (my jumping was compromised but not my effort) and completed without issue. Next were advanced kick/punch focus pad attacks which I breezed through on pure adrenaline and God's grace.
Moving on I attempted a 7 board step-over jump back kick which I have preformed and practiced extensively. By this point I was coming "back to earth" a little and was not successful. My launch just wasn't there for such an ambitious technique. I had to settle for a step behind side kick which actually took a few tries. "Don't give up!" I could hear the students yelling for me. It was all I needed and hit it the next kick. BAM! Finally a spinning reverse turning kick suspended 2 boards. Speed and power. BAM! Master Smith was so encouraging. Without his wisdom for treating injuries, his students rooting for me and the power of God I would not have achieved the goal set before me.
After I returned to Houston I was diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon to have severly torn ligaments in my ankle. This would be my testimony of the power of God's spirit working through Master Bob Smith and the power of prayer for overcoming obstacles and even injuries to obtain your goals in life.
It was an honor to have the opportunity to test in front of my Grand Master Kang and Master Bob Smith. NEVER GIVE UP! Don't Quit! Great things happen when you persevere.
Master Christopher Santarose - 7th dan