Most 18-year old high school students have one thing set as a marker for progress in their life: graduation.
For Larance Knauss, graduation from Brookings-Harbor High School was three weeks ago, but the larger milestone on life’s highway for him was testing for, and receiving, his first-degree black belt in tae kwon do Choi’s Tae Kwon Do Academy.
“I was ecstatic,” Knauss said. “Testing wasn’t difficult, but being in front of the grand master and the other respectable people from our school was nerve wracking.”
The testing he referred to was a five part assesment of his ability to perform, teach his art and referee his art.
According to Knauss’ teacher – fifth-degree black belt Greg Doan – the five areas of testing include forms, sparring, terminology, board breaking and referee skills.
“It was a good test,” Doan said. “Larance did really well.”
Knauss is one of three students whom Doan has taught long enough for the student to receive their black belt, and is the first he has taught all the way from white belt to black belt.
“Larance has been studying for about seven years now,” Doan explained. “He is the youngest black belt test I’ve had of three students who have tested.
Knauss traveled to Molalla to take the black belt test and was accompanied by his mother, Donna, his teacher and Greg’s son Walker – who are all practitioners of tae kwon do.
“I could have given the test for his black belt because I’m a fifth degree black belt,” Doan explained, “but twice a year the Choi’s school has camps and we all went up and took classes at the camp and Larance was able to test there in front of the grand master of our school and others.”
Knauss’ path to black belt took longer than some and less time than others, according to Doan, but is far from over.
“There reaches a certain point where the student needs other teachers to teach new and advanced techniques,” he explained. “I always tell my students that I hope they will become better – and more knowledgeable – than I am.”
Knauss is looking at ways to get closer to schools where he can progress beyond his current rank of first-degree black belt.
“I plan on getting more advanced rank,” Knauss explained. “I’m currently exploring options with the Job Corps that will allow me to be closer to a Choi’s Tae Kwon Do school so I can advance.”