Monday, 13 June 2011

One proud lady owner of a.....


BLACK BELT!

You know, I can hardly believe that what was such a huge mountain in front of me only 24 hours ago is now behind me! It feels amazing, shattering, but amazing all the same. As I write this I am looking at a huge certificate with my name on that says I have been “….officially entered into the records of Seishin-Do Shukokai Karate and is herewith licensed to rank in the 1st Dan grade of shukokai Karate-Do in recognition of the degree of excellence achieved in the study of the art.” Who me? Wow! 

Me and Hubby!
Of course, I also have to congratulate my husband who also passed with flying colours and made a brilliant partner. Thank you. 

It was a good day, a positive day.  I had been so worried that I would feel drained and negative at the end of the day and that it would feel like an anti-climax but in reality I didn’t feel like that at all. I felt fairly relaxed and positive throughout the day.

We had an early start, up at 6.00am and out of the house by 8.00. We had an hour and a half drive to the grading centre and were expected on the mats by 10.00am. After a warm up and some practice time we started the grading at 10.30 and finished at 5.30pm. Nineteen people graded – seventeen passed.

With 19 people and 15 sections to get through the grading officers had organised the day with military precision. The kihon sections were done in rows. There were 14 combinations to do in all. The front row graded first with the first two combinations then moved to the back and the second row came forward, then the third row. Then the first row did the next two combinations and so on. It took about an hour and a quarter to get through that little lot. I made my first big error during the stance combination – I stepped left into shiko dachi and everyone else in the row stepped right. They were right, I was wrong. My mistake obviously stuck out like a sore thumb!

Receiving my belt
As an aside, I was the last person on the third row. I thought this was because my last name begins with ‘W’ and we were in alphabetical order. I had rationalised that the reason my husband wasn’t standing next to me (there was a person between us) was because we were grading partners and we were being allowed a ‘1 person gap’ between me partnering him and him partnering me for our ippons and goshin waza. It wasn’t until we were driving home that my husband took joy in telling me that the reason I was last in the line was because I was the oldest person grading!

For the kata/bunkai sections we were split into two groups. One group left the grading hall to have a lunch break for an hour whilst the second group did their 3 kata and bunkai demonstrations individually. We then swapped over. I was in the second group. For me the kata demonstration was the most nerve wracking part of the grading but I managed to do all the kata without any mistakes so I’m pretty sure that section went okay.

The rest of the sections were either done in two or three groups at a time or individually with partners. My only other blunder was during the ippon kumite section. Despite having gone through all nine techniques endlessly in my mind whilst waiting for my turn (last of course, since I was the old lady!) when it came to actually do it I unconsciously substituted one of my defences to oi zuki for one of my defences to mawashi zuki. Then when I got to my mawashi zuki defences I realised I’d already shown one. I couldn’t immediately work out which oi zuki defence I’d missed out so couldn’t think quickly enough to adapt it to a mawashi zuki attack. Instead I just repeated the one I’d already done. Naturally, the sharp eyed judges noticed I’d repeated a technique! Still it was better than standing there wondering what to do.

With our instructor
The last two sections were sparring. First jiyu kumite then shiai kumite. I was partnered up with a teenage girl who was grading for 2nd dan. She was clearly a more agile and experienced sparrer than me but I thought I didn’t do too badly against her in the jiyu section (free sparring) – I got a reasonable range of kicks and punches on her, though she knew exactly how to deal with my mawashi geri kicks – catching my foot, spinning me round and thumping me in the back! In the shiai kumite section (competition sparring) I had to fight her again. According to my husband I held her off me pretty well and even scored a half point. Then I made the fatal mistake of doing a mawashi geri and again she caught my foot, span me round and punched me in the back, scoring herself a full ippon. I should have known better! So she won but it didn’t matter the grading was finally over.

We were all asked to leave the grading hall whilst the marks were added up. The atmosphere in the waiting area was very upbeat. We were all tired and glad it was over but there was a lot of camaraderie and positive talk going on. In fact, throughout the day the atmosphere had been friendly and supportive – almost enjoyable!

My fellow club members
After about 40 minutes we were called back in and lined up again. Each person’s final mark was called out and that person walked to the front to shake hands with each grading officer and receive their belt and certificate. This was obviously a difficult time for the two people that didn’t pass as they just had to stay in line after receiving their mark. They were both only youngsters and I thought they dealt with it stoically and maturely (no tears or complaints). They even came up to congratulate other people when we were celebrating at the end so I hope they both have success at their next attempt.

You know, I didn't feel as shattered at the end of the grading as I had expected to. I was tired and a little achy but not as shattered as I was after assisting at the last dan grading last November. I don't know if this is because I am fitter now than I was 6 months ago or whether that carbo-loading regime Felicia advised me on really did work - all I know is I felt okay at the end. The porridge for breakfast fuelled me for a few hours (thanks Marie) and the mango pieces were the most practical and enjoyable snack food I took (thanks Patty).  I nibbled food at every opportunity (thanks Charles) and drank cranberry juice as well as water (thanks kururunfa). The other food I took that was really palatable and useful was - sushi! It contained protein and carbohydrate, was tasty, easily digestible and came in bite size pieces - perfect! I'm pretty sure all your nutritional advice helped get me through the day, so thanks.

I have a double karate class tonight so I am looking forward to stepping into the dojo with my black belt on. The belt is stiff and virtually untie-able at the moment but I'll manage!

The whole grading group!



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23 comments:

Colin Yates said...

Congratulations! Wow. I envy you - well done.

Charles Indelicato said...

Well done, Kyo sa nim!!

Kyung Nae!

John Vesia said...

Well done Sue, congrats!

I guess you have to change the title of your blog again.
; )

Nicola Avery said...

Congratulations Sue !

Guilherme R. Fauque said...

Hey Sue, what a great achievement!!! Congratulations! You deserve!

And now? Do you'll change the blog name? Maybe you could change to: My Journey as a Black Belt! ;)

I'll make my examination to black belt of Shorinji Kempo next year, I'm quite anxious! You know... lol

Fran said...

Congrats to you. Wow. Well done Sue. I am heading into my next Section for Grading on Thursday. I do "Kicks Section". Wish me luck. Slowly crawling my way into 4th Kyu. Taking "Baby Steps".

Felicia said...

Whoo-Hoo!! Let's hear it for the "old ladies" :-)

So very happy for/proud of you! Congratulations again (responded on your other blog as well)...

John Coles said...

Congratulations.

I still remember when I was awarded shodan. I remember feeling it wasn't right because my instructors were black belts - not me. It took a little while before I felt like I deserved the black belt; before I felt like I belonged.

No messages there. Just sharing the feelings associated with a major achievement in my life.

Congrats again. BTW, you have to use the wisdom of age against the agility of youth. Stalk them and force them into an impetious tactical error. They can't help themselves.

John W. Zimmer said...

Way to go Sue!

Journeyman said...

I couldn't be happier for you. I realized I felt kind of proud of you, which is bizarre as we've never met. I think a lot of us out here really felt we were connected to this stage of your journey.

Well done. You should be very proud. Good luck tying up the unruly belt!

Again, congratulations. You deserve it.

Simon Butler said...

Congratulations Sue!

Charles James said...

Hi, Sue: No congrats, no accolades, no expressions of any kind. Why, cause you were a yudansha long before you stepped up to the testing plate.

You did good, your husband did good, your group did good and I didn't have to be there to know that ... simple, you exuded all the qualities a yudansha is supposed to have in spades ...

"Yu-dan-sha!" Something to have a bit of pride in ...

"Yu-dan-sha!" Something once earned no one can take away, no one can challange, no one can quibble or argue ... you are one, that is it now and forever.

I equate this for your group much like the day I put on the eagle, globe and anchor to wear the title that goes with the emblem, it is for life.

I will borrow a quote, "Once a Yu-dan-sha, always a Yu-dan-sha!"

Inspire, lead, mentor, and most importantly practice, practice, practice.

Temper the pride ... of course, after you enjoy the pride of your accomplishments ...

"Yu-dan-sha, welcome to the sky for your wings have been earned!"

Charles James said...

Oh, as to John's thought on changing your blog titled, leave it with one small change.

OLD:My journey to black belt
NEW:My journey as black belt

Just a thought. :-)

Charles James said...

Ops, you said, ""I felt fairly relaxed and positive throughout the day."

I say, "It's cause you were prepared, you did good!"

Yamabushi said...

Congratulations!

Kururunfa said...

Congratulations!

kiwikarateka said...

Hi Sue,

I've been reading your bog for the past 2.5 years (about the same length of time that I've been studying karate).
Congratulations on getting your black belt! お疲れさまでした。I hope I will get there too some day!

danyul said...

Congratulations to both of you :-)

Michele said...

Congratulations Sue!

SenseiMattKlein said...

Well done Sue! Knew you'd have no problem. Welcome to the club, now the fun starts.

SueC said...

Thanks Michele

Thanks Matt - what, you mean it actually gets funnier? LOL

BBat50 said...

Congratulations. That's so fantastic that you went through it as a couple. I train at the same school as my three children but my wife doesn't. And I've never been through a "cycle" black belt promotion with a family member entirely.

My son and I overlapped for six months during the cycle. I've never been happier.

SueC said...

BB@50, We were hoping that our eldest son would grade with us as well but school exams, driving test and various other things took over for him so he's going to grade for black belt in December now. My youngest son has also returned to the karate fold after a 3 year absence so we are now a complete karate family again :-)

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