As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in a previous post, there were two main reasons that I started taking karate. Obviously fitness, but also because there is an end goal that you’re working toward, earning the coveted black belt. As the saying goes, with a little hard work and determination, you can accomplish anything. I recently had the opportunity to see this adage in action while observing part of the testing that I, with a little luck, hope to be participating in myself one day.
Picture a room full of gi(uniform) clad people, standing before a row of instructors. Now imaging going through a collection of forms/katas over and over again, your every move scrutinized. All the while the instructors are throwing out questions about the various techniques. What’s the name of that move? What’s the theory behind the collection of moves that makes up this section of the kata, etc, etc. It’s not enough to know the blocks and strikes to perform, but also why you’re performing them and how to vary them. It was intense to watch. I can only imagine what it was like to be out there.
The next section of testing was sparring and, for me, the most intimidating part. First because up until now I’ve basically been beating the heck out of an invisible attacker. So the thought of really getting hit is intimidating. This was no Daniel Larusso, first to three points wins thing. This was a sparring and endurance test all rolled into one. One person stayed on the mat for four minutes while facing fresh opponent after fresh opponent. I was exhausted and sore just watching, but I did understand the point. In part it was about conditioning, but more so it was about not giving up.
For a lowly orange belt like myself I have quite a ways to go before I’ll have to face this particular challenge, but I didn’t start this journey just to quit. I suppose the same thing could be said about being a writer. I don’t think any of us started writing and trying to get published just to walk away when things don’t go the way you expect. In a lot of ways it’s similar to testing. You start all eager and somewhat clueless. Then you get scrutinized, judged, and knocked down a few times. Through it all you keep you eye on that end goal. In then end, I like to think, we all achieve some degree of success be it simply completing a manuscript, hitting it big on the New York Times list or a myriad of possibilities in between.
In conclusion to my story about black belt testing, I’d like to offer a huge round of congratulations to Melinda Leigh for earning her second-degree black belt.