Crane kicks his way to black belt

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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