Pat Besong's photo

Martial Arts

Black Belt Mugshot

I have been training in Tang Soo Do, a Korean form of martial arts, for the past 7 years or so and passed my Black Belt test in the Spring 2004 testing cycle. I was a little nervous, but well prepared and came through with flying colors. On the written test, I scored a 99 out of 100 and was asked to stand and be recognized among the whole testing class. A pretty proud moment to be sure. I made all my breaks. The first was a power break - a 180 degree jumping straight back kick. I got it on the second try (as I thought about it later, I realized I'd done it using my "weak" side).

After that I had to do a wheel kick as a speed break (the board is only supported on the bottom) and for my hand break I did a speed break using my knuckles. Got both speed breaks on the first attempt (destroyed them!). For my dark blue belt (Cho Dan Bo - black belt candidate) test, I broke a brick with a palm strike.

Apparently the gentleman holding the pad for me in the video above wasn't quite ready for what I was dishing out on the jump front kicks. Knocked it clean out of his hand and it went flying up in the air. Funniest part was that prior to my test, I told the other two guys from my school who were testing to "knock the pad right out of their hands". Lead by example, I always say. I stopped and looked at them laughing after that happened.

Just for fun I slowed down the spinning outside/inside kick above. This kick can generate a lot of power and a world of hurtin' at close quarters. It's one of my favorite kicks. There are about 10 different jump kicks we do and you have to do 10 kicks with each leg for each of them, so that's 200 kicks. You really get winded if you're not in shape. Very challenging.

The kick above is a jumping axe kick. Probably best as a finishing kick on an opponent who is doubled over. All the power is transmitted through the heel of your foot. Another very powerful kick. The kick below is a jump spinning back kick. Good for closing distance on someone and delivering a devastating blow.

Grandmaster Jae C. Shin with Pat Besong and friends

After the black belt test, Grandmaster Jae C. Shin honored us by posing for a photo. From left to right: Ron Shall, John Shall, Grandmaster Jae C. Shin, myself, and my instructor, Tony Vallalla.

To help me (and other black belt candidates) study for the written portion of the black belt test, I've put together this online Tang Soo Do Quiz that covers a lot of the terminology and history of Tang Soo Do. It will grade your test immediately after you submit it via a perl script I wrote. Try it as many times as you like. Drop me a note if it helps you study for the black belt test. It's a bit harder than the real test, but it will help you to know the material better.