The culmination of 3½ to four years of hard work paid off for four students at the first Ruffing Martial Arts black-belt test on Saturday afternoon in Delaware.
Emery Ziehm, Ethan Mociolek, Sirh Sumner and Michael Bennett passed a three-hour test officiated by grandmasters Terry Wilson and Tan Tran and masters Edwin Kim and William Ruffing, who runs the school.
“It’s good for me to see my efforts come to fruition,” Ruffing said with a big smile on his face. “I was proud of them.”
The four had to do a flexibility test, hand and foot techniques and combinations, weapon forms, self-defense, joint manipulation and various wood and concrete breaks.
They also did various types of sparring, including two-on-one sparring and weapon sparring at medium to full contact.
“With the amount of information that they had to remember, some of them made mistakes here and there, and some of them got tired, which is expected when you push them to their limit,” Ruffing said. “Doing anything for three hours without much break is difficult. In a sport, you get a halftime. … There is no halftime here.”
“This experience has been very stressful,” Bennett said. “It’s been long and it’s been a very fun, exciting, entertainment thing that I’m actually good at.”
Bennett, 16, said he tried Boy Scouts, baseball, soccer and track and, “I find this and I’ve made all of these friends.”
Mociolek, 12, rated the level of his happiness at a “98 out of 100.”
Ziehm, 13, said that when he started, he could only kick up to his waist and now he can kick higher than his shoulder level.
“It’s been a long journey and a hard journey,” he said.
He said that he would continue to train and test for a second-degree black belt in two years.
There were 20 kids in the class that started with Ziehm, Mociolek, Sumner and Bennett. Ruffling described his role in the long journey as “a mentorship.”
Ruffing teaches Mu Sool Tang Soo Do, which is a based in Tang Soo Do and includes aspects of Hapkido, Hwa Rang Do and Soo Ho Ji Moo.
“It’s a comprehensive martial art, including take-down, joint manipulation, throwing, form, weapons,” Ruffing said. “(It’s) just like I learned in Korea.”
Ruffing Martial Arts is located at 12 Troy Road in Delaware and offers classes for all ages. For more information, visit www.ruffingmartialarts.com or like it on Facebook.