By Emily Artman, purple belt, age 11
Suddenly, golden beams of sunlight peeked through the glass door and momentarily blinded me.
Our voices echoed off the walls as one hundred eyes pierced my skin.
The cold air at Snow Mountain Ranch came rushing into my lungs as though it wanted me more than I wanted it. I looked out over the grassy field, a single picnic bench dotting the horizon. The snow-capped mountains sparkling in the distance. I could feel every crack and splinter of the aged, wooden deck beneath my feet. Anticipation hung heavy in the air as each group prepared to showcase the Martial Arts demo they had been working and practicing on all week. As we took our places I was the second in line. I walked into the small room of the Leget building, falling into step with the others in my group. When I lined up in formation I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding in. I tried to look confident, but my insides were doing back-flips.
I heard my uniform snap, my voice echo, and could feel the rapid beads of cool sweat rolling down my neck, back, and forearms. Time slowed each punch crisper and more precise than the one before.
It seemed like hours before we transitioned into our next formation. My body was working on autopilot and executed each move perfectly, without thought. As hard as I tried to suppress it, I could not ignore the hundreds of eyes staring at me. Suddenly, golden beams of sunlight peeked through the glass door and momentarily blinded me. My heart skipped several beats. My brain seemed to have stopped working. That moment of warmth from the sun had cost me dearly. I panicked; my heart was beating out of my chest, had I forgotten everything? No, after that moment of utter terror the sun disappeared behind it’s cloud and I was able to fall back into step. Could everyone tell?
We finished on final kihap, the sound full of perseverance, indomitable spirit, and integrity. I stood there not daring to move an inch, my face lined with sweat. Breaths were coming fifty at a time. Then... Applause filled the room like thunder. I could feel a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth while my spirit soared. I kept my face emotionless as we accepted our applause and left the floor.