Tag Archives: testing

An Emotionally Challenging Test

Breaking out of a bear hug.

This year’s Tenchi Dojo Karate Camp was a special one for me. I had the honor of testing my first born for his black belt. Though I have to be honest and tell you it wasn’t an easy task testing my son. As a mother, my natural instinct is to protect my children, not pummel them (…even during those times when they test my patience and drive me so crazy the urge to kick their little butts give them a stern “talking to” runs strong…but I digress…).

Anyway…I never thought the emotional vortex of my own black belt testing could be rivaled. But it was on that weekend. The teacher in me wanted to push my student beyond his limits. The mother in me didn’t want my “little boy” to hurt. At one exhausted point during the four day camp, his body language screamed “Mom, I need to lean on you.” My arms ached to wrap him in a comforting hug. It killed me to walk away. He probably doesn’t even remember that, but it’s a moment I will NEVER forget. In the end, he got his hug (probably more hugs than he ever wanted to get in front of an audience), and his mother couldn’t have been more proud. Congratulations, Gregory, on your well deserved promotion to shodan (1st degree black belt). You are an amazing young man!

Mom congratulating her son. I wonder if he remembers what I whispered to him.

Notice the look on sister's face when she smells his filthy, sweaty gi (uniform)...priceless.

The new shodans with Sensei Fawcett. In case you were confused, Sensei Fawcett is the clean one in the middle. 🙂

That’s three Fawcetts down and one to go.  It won’t be long before our little girl is ready to test for her black belt. <Gulp> Why do I get the feeling that THAT testing will be my most emotionally challenging one yet?

~ K.M. Fawcett

Passing the Test

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.

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