Back in the Brown
Some days I think Hanshi is the best teacher I have ever crossed paths with. Other days, I question if I have given him too much of my trust. But in the two weeks since testing for Sankyu, I tend toward the former.
In the month of December, I have not set foot in the dojo without being asked to perform my newest kata (Tawada No Sai – 85 moves) or work kumite drills with a partner. Reflecting on my test that felt so disappointing at the time, these are the two areas in which I wished to redeem myself the most. Not finding redemption in the test, I felt denied…but that redemption has since been granted.
A wise teacher can withhold things for a certain length of time from student for her own best interest because he has the broader path in mind. An eager student can feel held back or misunderstood if she senses something is being withheld. But when that wisdom is understood and that eagerness given the chance to prove itself, the trust between teacher and student deepens.
It is with this trust that I’ll enter the “LD Phase” of my training in January. LD, or long distance, will of course come with its own challenges. For now, my goal is straightforward: I have been invited to attend the annual Professional Association of Martial Arts Instructors (PAMAI) conference. This is a black belt conference, brown belt by invitation only. Hanshi has invited me and I have been given permission to miss a weekend at Interlochen to fly to Atlanta to attend.
I’ll say goodbye on the 6th, begin my weekly letters to Hanshi that document my training (and ask questions), then reunite with the dojo crew in Atlanta on the 29th. Informally, that will be the first “test” of my dedication to the LD Phase…and to the path of black belt somewhere down the line.