Gearing Up for Green Belt

Let’s make something clear: I have sparred at the dojo less than half a dozen times. The first few times I did it, Hanshi was surprised at the ease of my performance. I was too…How did I learn those things? Where was my fighting mentality brewing up from? How is it that I wasn’t thinking, just fighting?

That feeling was quickly gone. Now I close distance and freeze, my body a mirror to my brain. I can see every move I might be able to do and how the opponent will block it. This is not a place I want to be.

Lis, the nidan (second degree black belt) from our dojo who moved to Virginia came back this weekend. She is also a writing friend. At any rate, I confided in her this week and, as always, she offered some choice advice about kumite:

“Remember [sparring]’s a new tool to master. It takes time to get acquainted with it, feel a modicum of comfort doing it. Think back to your first month in karate class. This too will get easier in time…I have yet to master it. And never feel that I will. I’m not fast with hands or feet. I get pissed off and have to fight that inner battle while looking outward at my opponent and try to respond to the situation. But that’s my battle…Yours will be different. Kumite brings different people face to face with different demons…Hanshi wouldn’t be testing you if he didn’t think you were ready.”

And so it is. The only context within which I will allow myself to think about kumite as I prepare for this green belt test is one that involves a healthy visualization of me moving, trying my best, no matter what, and learning from my mistakes. That is how I will grow.

Meantime, I’ve been studying my flashcards and put together a mock test for myself. Some things I know so well I don’t need to be tested on; we all know basic principles because he drills us on them frequently. But other nuances, well, they could come at me during the test and I’ve got to be prepared. I’ll post my mock test to this blog later this week, just to give some idea of what I’m talking about.

In other news: Ready for a Lost Crossings update? Oh, it’s GOOD NEWS folks! We are so incredibly close I can hardly stand it! And I have it on good authority that a small handful of checks will be arriving later this week, so I’m waiting with held breath. For now, check out Lost Crossings and join in our celebration. We’ve almost made it!

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