While we waiting for the results of the exam Reed, MaryAnn and me lolled in the back practice area amusing ourselves with anecdotes and stories about the test that had just finished. But time was moving on and the advanced belts were passing through to the locker room and leaving and I still hadn't been called.
When we lined up to start the test the room was absolutely packed to the gills. Twelve of us were testing this time which is a fairly large number for the room. Add to this twenty plus judges and at least 10 testing partners. The room was 90 degrees and we were already sweating profusely from lightly warming up.
Since putting the twelve of us on one line proved impractical we were broken into three lines to give us space to move around. Unfortunately, I placed myself on the far left of the room due to my rank and the length of my kata, but a 7th degree blackbelt placed himself in front of me which was frustrating. I wasn't sure how to manage that because who knew what kind of crazy stuff he was going to be doing?
As part of the test process judges and come up and randomly select a person to judge. In my case they would ask what Kata package I was going to be doing and either moved on or got my list of kata. I'm not the two who ended up with me were particularly thrilled with doing a Nidan, but they both knew the katas in my list so I thought that was a good sign. Unfortunately, the guys that did my test last time didn't volunteer again which bummed me out because I wanted to show how much I'd improved.
The test always feels like it starts abruptly, but that's because that wait is several years long! We do the bowing and then it's go time. I don't remember doing much of the kata, but can recall the bunkai fairly well because of the thumps, sweat and exhaustion. Reed and I selected a complex bunkai to finish everything off after the 10th kata. I was completely shot and we had to do it four times. Each time I had to reach down and pull the energy to get moving. I wasn't quite gasping, but I was pretty darn close.
And then it was done and we got to watch a few folks that has twelve kata and then it was bow out and drink some water. A side note is that I didn't urinate for a full 12 hours afterwards, and that was after consuming liters of water. I've never been so dehydrated.
During the test I had to make my way around that 7th degree guy, which wasn't great, but I gather it didn't weigh against me. I completely messed up the 9th kata I did, but I did it with great confidence so if the folks who were watching they might not have caught that. I could fail two kata and still pass though.
After everyone had passed through I started to get concerned. There was a lot of passes for the high rank folks and there isn't a lot of tests where everyone passes. My nerves were getting to Reed so he went to find out where things were. He popped his head back around the corner and waved me forward.
Reed and I kneeled in front of the two Shihans running the test.
"You've got two passes!" I whooped and bowed. And then they reviewed the notes from the two judges and gave me the certificate. And then I was done.
I was pretty happy evening and we ended up staying up to 1am telling stories and joking, but I found that the next day I simply, was. I was neither up or down. Phooey.
I was glad that I was able to start something new after so long, but I didn't necessarily feel any particular excitement. So it was the journey after all, not the destination. Phooey again. I wanted that excitement of achieving something I'd worked on for so long and feel a buzz that lasted days. Sigh. I was just focused on trying to sort out what to work on next.
The drive back from Yakima was long, but fun and I think that was a reward in itself. Rather than dealing with failure, it was gift to look at the future and the possibilities expressing themselves while we talked.
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