Crane kicks his way to black belt
After shuffling through his wallet for a minute, Spaniard’s Bay’s Sean Crane found what he was looking for.
It’s a black card with white lettering and it lets the world know Crane is a Second level Dan or a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo.
Crane reached the prestigious level last June when he successfully completed his black belt test under Master Wesley Earle Jr., and Sheila McGrath, a seventh dan and fourth dan black belt respectively. Both are Newfoundland and Labrador Taekwondo Association Hall of Famers.
Crane, who justed finished Grade 11, describes it as a “test of mental and physical endurance.” In the sweltering heat inside the group’s Shearstown dojang, he began his belt test with the basics.
Moving from one poomsae, or forms, to another, Crane started with one he learned as a yellow stripe belt in the fall of Grade 5. Then he slowly progressed until he reached what he had learned as a black stripe.
It is high pressure and nobody wants to miss a form.
“You have to remember the names and the correct order,” said Crane. “There were times they’d say the names and I’d just freeze.”
After that test of endurance comes the sparring. Crane remembers being exhausted and having to pull on the protective equipement before willing himself through the next step.
You don’t have to win, but you have to prove “you’re agility and your power in the match.”
That’s followed by the breaking of boards with either fists or feet.
“The boards can be hard,” he said. “It depends on how they’re cut or if they’re wet or not.”
Through it all, Crane had done enough to earn himself his first dan. A year later, he would get his second dan.
“It was pretty awesome. I had finally gotten to that moment,” said Crane. “I remember being younger and looking at the black belt on the wall and imagining that around my waist.”
It’ll take another two years before he can test for his third dan. Step by step The climb up the black belt ladder is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. Crane started with the white belt when he started with Earle’s in Grade 5 and progressed quickly through the ranks.
At the end of his Grade 10 school year, he had become a second dan in the martial art.
“I thought I’d get there one day, but I never thought I would get as far as I did,” said Crane.
He attributes his quick ascension to the support of his parents and the work put in by Master Earle and McGrath.
“You had to bring energy every class,” said Crane. “Wes gets everything he can out of you.”
Taekwondo is an art mostly devoid of punching, relying solely on powerful leg strikes and laser-like precision.
Punches are used to get dis- tance should an opponent get too close.
When the ideal distance is achieved, combatants set their opponents up for a barrage of what can be devastating leg kicks. Crane remembers the time he tried to block of one of those kicks with his hand. The result was a broken appendage.
He remembers taking kicks to the chest and one in the throat that dropped him immediately.
“There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into this,” he said.
Crane is hoping to get back into the kick of things in the fall as he goes for his third degree black belt.
Nipping at his heels will be his 10-year-old sister Brooklyn, who is a junior second degree black belt. In taekwondo, you can’t be a full-fledged dan until the age of 14.
Despite this, Brooklyn is constantly letting her older brother know she is going to pass him if he doesn’t speed up.
“It’s pretty competitive,” said Crane. “It keeps me motivated to get the next one.”