5th Dan Black Belt Grading/Power Weekend

Well Hello Everyone

It appears that I have survived 43 hours of Power Weekend and my 5th Dan Black Belt grading with Kwan Jan Nim (Master) Veronica DeSantos. Well I cannot go through all the details as what happens at power weekend and grading stays there but I will give you a little something from my experience as well as what Master Joyce thought of her 5th Dan Black Belt grading and soon to be Master Richard Bernier on his thoughts about his 4th Dan Black Belt grading.

Well our weekend started Friday afternoon as we left from Richard’s house and drove to Toronto. We had a nice drive and talked about various aspects of our lives as well as Taekwondo and our dojang. We arrived at DeSantos Martial Arts Studio on Main Street in Toronto shortly after 2pm and met up with Master DeSantos. We soon were blindfolded and taken out to the streets of Toronto where we were required to complete various tasks and make it back to the dojang before 5pm. At 5pm the higher level of Black Belt grading had to do presentations on their journey to black belt and demonstrate the various aspects of our training. After this we were put through lots of fitness challenges and workouts including taekwondo basics, cardio, strength, enduracne, as well as mental challenges. We were certainly put through the ropes with the instructors such as Ian Justin, Sean Ingram, Norm MacNeil, Tuan Tran, Raphael Waugh, Luca Vaccalluzzo, Jean-Pierre Goulet, and a few others I cannot think of at this moment but I do appreciate them for pushing us to our limits. I think Tuan Tran likes to torture me but I love it!!!! For anyone that does not know, I went for 3rd Dan when Tuan went for his 4th dan. We were partners most of the time at that grading. Try keeping up to him for 40 hours. Now that was a power weekend. Anyway I want to thank Tuan Tran for pushing me and challenging me to do more. Your extra little challenges for me were awesome. Thanks.

After that we supposedly were allowed to go to bed but not really. Sir Norm took us outside to do some more training. I was now one of the instructors that got to but the students through a little “FUN!” as I have experience twice before. 🙂 That was fun for me. After that we returned to the dojang for very little sleep. I was thinking maybe 45 minutes is all we got. We were then up and at it again. Sir Luca and Sir JP put us through a wake up workout to get the blood flowing. Awesome job guys. After that I got to do the warm up for the 8:30am class on Saturday morning in case you didn’t know what day it is right now in the story. We certainly lost track of time at some point during Friday night or was it Saturday morning. Anyway after that we were outside training with the bo staff. After that I taught a class on breaking. Then we were training kicking and self defense with Ma’am Toni and Master DeSantos. I think Master DeSantos was having too much fun with some of the drills. 😉 After that we went out to the neighbourhood to do some cleaning to show respect to the community. Now it was a 2 hour break time where we ate, cleaned up, and worked on patterns and what not’s to get ready for a long night. 6pm came around and we did another “WARM UP” with Ma’am Natalie who I tested with years ago at my first power weekend.

After our “warm up” we trained with Sidoshi Cort Elliot. A grandmaster of Ninjitsu. That’s right, I got to train with a real Ninja. Awesome experience. I have seen him teach before but never got a chance to work with him in person until now. He’s a real nice and humble man. Has great knowledge of martial arts. After that we were ran through various drills relating to striking, kicking, blocking, cardio, patterns, and other techniques of martial arts and Taekwondo. We were also tested how well we knew our patterns through various mental and physical challenges. I won’t go into detail about what everyone did but will tell you one of mine. Basically I had to do my favorite pattern which is Koryo. So no biggie right? We all know by now that Koryo is my favorite pattern, right? Well before I had to do Koryo I had to perform 15 tuck jump burpees followed by 5 pistol squats. Now that is not all. I was then required to place two glasses of water on the back of my hands and perform Koryo without spilling the glasses. Okay so no problem right? All I should have to do is focus on the pattern and my balance. Well not quite. I was also required to answer various questions about Koryo while performing it. I believe this whole thing was Sir Sean’s idea. But you know what? I love it!! Thanks Sean. He also told me that they were amazed how steady my hands were through the whole thing after doing though physical challenges first.

After all of this we finished the physical training and testing for Saturday night/Sunday morning with musical patterns. For though that do not know, musical forms is when you create your own unique form to musical. Very cool. After that we were given questions to ask and discuss the power weekend process up to this point. Well this was another late evening staying up or was it an early morning when we got to bed for like 2 hours of sleep or less. With little sleep we got up and cleaned the dojang and were off to the boardwalk for a nice Sunday morning run. The 2nd Dan’s and higher were required to run 6km while the 1st Dan’s were required to run 5km. Well I ran my 6km in 32 minutes and 2 seconds. Not too bad for a guy that has not went for a run since 2004 I believe. Running really screws up my knees as I am feeling it right now. They are really bad. Hard to walk up and down the stairs. Give me a skipping rope or a kettlebell and that is the cardio that works for me. Anyway I was one of the first to complete the run. After you were done your run you had to go back out and collect the rest that graded. So some of us clocked 7, 8, 9, 10 or more km’s before it was all done. Awesome experience.

Now I have left out a lot of details about what actually happened during power weekend and for good reason. It’s no good that you can just read about our experiences. I feel everyone should experience something like a power weekend. It really challenges you spirituality, mentally, and physically. It lets you know what you are made of. It teaches you to never give up and that there is no such thing as” I can’t”. Our Black Belt grading on June 18th here at Cobourg Tae Kwon Do will be similar. Lots of challenges that will affect our students in a positive way.

During power weekend I have seen a lot. I saw people getting injured. I saw people deal with physical limitations and injuries. People struggling with various challenges and fears. I saw tears, blood, pain, and etc,. I also saw smiles. I saw hope. I say the indomitable spirit of man prevail over any and all challenges that we were faced with. As long as you have a strong will and a positive attitude you can overcome almost anything you set your mind to. I witnessed this time and time again over the weekend. Everyone was different in the way they got through the things that challenged them individually. What may have been someone else’s strength would have been another’s weakness. I see way too many times in my life people giving up way to easy because they were faced with a challenge that we thought was impossible to beat. To me that is just sad that they were not able to feel the pride of accomplishing something that was worthwhile. Remember “PAIN IS TEMPORALLY, PRIDE IS FOREVER.”

I now would like to take this moment and congratulate everyone for an awesome job at Power Weekend and accomplishing something that feel people will even dare to try or consider. I know it was tough but you did it. Be proud of yourself as I am very proud of you. I am glad I met you all. Some of you will become and are my friends.

I also want to thank all the instructors and helpers who encouraged us to never give up. Thank them for pushing us to our limits. Thanks for believing us. And Thanks for making us better people. Thanks to KJN Veronica DeSantos for everything she has done for me and my students. I cannot thank you enough for being the person you are.

I also want to thank Master Joyce and now the new Master Richard for grading with me at Power Weekend and trusting me in their training for power weekend. Thank you for supporting me during power weekend as well as all the training we did together. Power Weekend was made a little easier with you there. And finally thank you for supporting Cobourg Tae Kwon Do and what  we are trying to accomplish.

And thank you to Master Gayle, Sir Jeff, Ryan, and Angela for looking after the classes at the dojang on the weekend for us. Great job everyone. And thanks to my dad for looking after the dojang as well.

Okay now I think you are getting sick of reading what I have to say so now read what Master Joyce has to say about her 5th Dan Black Belt grading at Power Weekend.

YES I DID IT !!!!!

I successfully completed and will be receiving my 5th DEGREE KWAN BLACK BELT JJJJJ

From Kwan Jan Nim Veronica De Santos. She is a TRUE leader. In 1999 Kwan Jan Nim De Santos was the first woman to be inducted in the North American Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

My main purpose for this weekend was to physically challenge myself. From 2:30 Friday afternoon till 10:30 Sunday morning believe me it was a physical and mental challenge once again. This is my second power weekend. A grading of a lifetime. Oh I actually got 4 hours of sleep for the entire weekend. Pushups, burpees, kicking, running, jumping jacks, situps, pushups (oh did I say pushups) lifting & running, blindfolded, bo staff patterns, musical form, patterns, kicking, self defense, pushups, and etc,.All done inside the dojang, at a park or by the Waterworks Dept. at the beaches in Toronto.

I met once again Masters and martial artist I already knew and lots of new martial art friends! What an awesome experience once again. Everyone and everything we do is so positive.. People from all different backgrounds.

“Can’t” is not a word in that environment !!!With all of my training I did what I set out to do. FINISH AND FINISH STRONG !

I was asked a question about me grading for the same level of a belt as Jonathan who is my master.

That was probably after midnight on Friday (since there were no clocks to look at) I wasn’t sure how I answered but what I wanted to say is:

The belt represents your journey, what you put into it is what you walk away with. The level of the belt shouldn’t mean you are any different. We all have different levels of physical and mental skills. We all respect one another, we are all there for a purpose to challenge yourself and to rise above and step up. To bring out the best in everyone around us and help to make this a better world.

We live by the tenets: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control and Indomitable Spirit.

 Not only to be a leader but a follower – and Jonathan is that!


Now for Sir Richard’s take on Power Weekend and his 4th Dan Black Belt grading. Oh and 4th Dan is a Master Level in WTF Taekwondo.

Power Weekend,

Some people want to run marathons, others to write that quintessential novel. All TKD practitioners should complete a power weekend. The feeling you get that Sunday morning, the glow you still feel Monday and the pride that stays with you can never be replaced. There is no doubt that you have earned YOUR belt.

There is work involved, commitment and sacrifice. Over the last 8 months I have often heard the comment, ” jeez, I could never do something like that.” and that very hurdle is the first thing you will blast through. It looks insurmountable and at times during the weekend you think to yourself it is and yet you make it through. You are surrounded by a group of people of all ages, sizes, fitness levels, beliefs etc but they all strive for that belt and the recognition that they will have earned that belt. (Hint – if you complete a power weekend make sure the dobuk is neat and tidy.)

There is a great deal of stress during the weekend. This is by design and not out of some weird sense of cruelty. Like the steel blade of the katana, you must be stressed to make you both tough and supple. The weekend will do that to you.

You will be exposed to some of the most qualified martial artists in the world. BTW – these same instructors rave about our master(Master Jonathan).

In short, I am glad & proud to have completed the weekend. I have no doubt that I am a black belt – rank does not really seem to matter. I am proud to be from Cobourg TKD and feel exceptionally blessed to have completed the process with Sir Jonathan and Ma’am Joyce. Their support throughout the last 8 months and especially this last weekend certainly helped me through.

ps – Ask Joyce why she was crawling on her hands & knees, looking for her bed in the dark and calling my name. Let you imaginations run wild!


Well I hope you have enjoyed this long read. I enjoyed composing it but not as much as going through my third power weekend 🙂

Master Jonathan field

Cobourg Tae Kwon Do

3 comments on “5th Dan Black Belt Grading/Power Weekend

  1. How does one perform koryo with glasses of water on their hands when most of the pattern is hand strikes and blocks…at one point the hands must turn towards the ground… Hmmm mm mm a bigger mystery then the caramilk secret…

    • Thanks for the question. Obviously you have to modify some of the hand movements. The point of this exercise is to test your balance, coordination, and how steady you can be.

  2. Thanks very much for posting these Jonathan — it was an honour to grade with you in 2007 and a real pleasure helping to test you this time round. I was really grateful that Joyce and Richard both graded as well. Coburg Tae Kwan Do is well-served with all of its Masters.

    Here are some of your teammates blogs about the weekend in case anyone wanted to read them:
    I’ll see you soon.

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