Friday, August 12, 2011

Post Test Notes

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.


SooShimKwan said...

Well done on your test. I doubt there are many people that walked away from a genuine Dan test, thinking it was a ball in the park. Remember that has a very big impact on ones performance and a first Dan exam is often quite stressful. I still believe that my first Dan test was my most difficult.


Colin Wee said...

Congratulations from Perth, Australia! :-)

Potatoe Fist said...

Thank you for the comments. As each day passes I'm feeling a little better about my performance. I finally plucked up the nerve to watch the tapes last night and wasn't too disappointed, but I sure could have been better in areas. However, not as bad as I had originally thought.

Andy said...


Michele said...


Potatoe Fist said...

Andy and Michelle - Thanks for the comments. I get to wear my Black Belt for the first time tomorrow!

Tony said...

We're our own worst critics - I know I was. After my 1st Dan grading my instructor told me not to focus on what I felt went badly, because although I could have done a couple of things a bit better, I could have done a lot of things a lot worse.

Congrats! Enjoy your achievement while it still hurts... and then get back to class!

Potatoe Fist said...

Tony - Thanks! That's a great preception - I could have done a lot of things way worse!

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