Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Journey Continues

I tested for my brown belt last night, getting through it, but it was a struggle. For the first time at this school, I think I really worked to earn a belt in a test. Most of the other “tests” I’ve had were just classes where I knew I’d be testing and tried to focus hard, but I didn’t really have to perform alone.

This time I got pulled up in front of class alone. A few others had done that for their red belt, and over time, for their blue and purple belts. When I got through those ranks, we weren’t tested hard. A few times we did some forms in a group, but no real “test” in front of the class. In fact, it’s been a decade and a half since I had to work something in front of a group and be graded.

And I was nervous. Not a lot, but a little. Lots of people in the class look up to me because outside of our teacher, I have the most experience. So I was a little worried about making mistakes, and I was a little worried my body would fail me. Sore right ankle, wrapped in a brace, which slips on the mats at times. There are times I wish I was back on a wood floor. A sore knee, and even a sore ankle. on the other side, and I was really worried I’d push off and something would slip, buckle, or collapse. And I was beat. Up too late Tues night and up early Wed.

We had a hard class, lots of wide stances at the start, which I think was to stress me, and have the class push me. It worked, as the energy was high, and we jammed. Then forms, which was nice since I’ve been out of class for 2 weeks and away from forms for 3. I practiced a few times Tues am, but not much. Then self defense, which I appreciated. Going through all 4 of the techniques we work was good since it’s been a few months since I’ve done any of them.

Finally, with 5 minutes, left, it was my time. The format has changed a little with people, but I knew our shihan expected me to be quick. No “re-doing” forms a few times. I’ve seen some people do them 3 or 4 times, especially when there’s a group.

Green form – blazing through, hard slaps on the elbow, lots of energy, but I felt a little tight at times. I was gripping, and it was a blur, so I’m not sure if I actually had shoulders tensed.

Blue Form – Nice pauses on the punches, I thought I set a good example. Moving on automatic through it that I was surprised when I got to the last couple moves. I did struggle with balance on the block/kicks.

Red Form – This is the one I like, kickboxing form. I had a hard time voicing the words, and did it less and less as I went along. I had an extra skip at one point, and I think my kicks weren’t crisp, but I was beat by the end.

Brown Form – I made a mistake here. There’s a block/punch combination, and I’m very upright and straight, not rotating the body and getting the punch out there. Shihan called me on it and I had to do it twice. The first time things felt good, but I had a little balance issue on the elbows. The second time I made corrections, thought I balanced well on all the kicks and movement and flew through it. I was so focused on the area in front of my, imagining someone that I was surprised when I looked back to see the front of the school. At the end of both forms, following the count, I was out of breath. It was “4", “4”, “5”, “5”, “6” (pause) “6” as I caught my breath.

Self defense was last, and I didn’t get Corey. He’s about my weight, but with 3 or 4” on me and he’s good to throw. Instead I had the senior male student and got to throw him around. I thought that things went well and I threw out the Ki-yai at the end, loudly, which isn’t something we typically do in class. Kids especially will half-ass it, so I think I provided a good example.

I got some good applause and that felt good, but I was glad to sit down. I was exhausted and this morning my body felt like someone had used it for a punching bag. Lots of sore muscles from the exertion, which I haven’t done in two weeks. Lots of running, but the punch, kick, start, stop hasn’t been something I’ve been doing, so the muscles are out of shape.

Another step in the journey, #8. Next step, black belt candidate.

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