Long story short – I passed my Black Belt test.
I’m filled with all sorts of emotions; pride and disappointment being the most prevalent.
The test lasted about a half hour and consisted of running me through a variety of basic techniques like kicks and strikes, then pad, or focus mitt, drills. I then performed Pyung Ohn Sa Dan, Oh Dan, Bassai and my test kata. They had me do my test one twice. The final section was fighting. I did four or five matches which couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds a piece and finished it up with a three against me match.
I’m proud that I’ve accomplished the belt, but I was disappointed in that I wished I could have shown a better performance to the judging panel. I have yet to see the tapes (just thinking about it is making me nervous), but even during the test I have to admit I didn’t look or feel very sharp at times. That coupled with my constant need for air made for a lot of breaks. When I cobble together the video I can guarantee that will be left out.
After each section of the test and even during sub sections the panel would stop to take notes and commiserate while I gasped and wheezed. At one point one of the panel came up and did a breathing exercise with me just to help. Pretty embarrassing. But it wasn’t like I could say I was fine, because I literally couldn’t.
During the focus drills that same panel member wanted to see combinations with a leg focus and he actually asked me, “do you have a favorite kick”? Best thing I’d every heard, but we’d just done snap kicks so I choose crescents and during one of the runs my left ankle made a sizable impact on his left elbow. Owww. My left ankle is somewhat swollen today.
I got chided for turning and walking away at one point (watch your back!) and got pointers throughout the test which I’m sure I should be taking at just a pointer, but internally I kept groaning at what I thought were obvious errors I shouldn’t be making.
I could keep writing about this until I was blue in the face, but to sum it up everyone gave me a lot of compliments and Teacher seemed genuinely pleased that I did as well as I could. My personal shame was that I was not in the shape that I clearly needed to be.
What compounded that feeling was when I was later read the score sheets, that pretty clearly pointed at mediocrity, to which my wife could only agree with. While she is no martial artist she has a shrewd eye as it relates to performance in any area. She’s seen me in several competitions and has a sense of how I move and definitely knew how nervous I was. When I searched my gut I realized that it was true when I’d rather have been excellent.
I was proof-reading this and if it sounds like I’m being hard on myself – I am. I’ll try to embrace my achievement and give it the respect it’s due.