Report on the belt test
This was originally posted on blogger here.
I was a bit apprehensive coming up to the test. A minor toe injury followed by a nasty bug heavily curtailed my training. I debated holding off until the winter, but decided to go and do it. I asked that the test not be made easier for my sake.
The day of the test I took off from work. I slept in, went to the ophthalmologist, then took another nap. I ate fish protein, real whole grain bread, simple nuts and cranberries. Ninety minutes before the test I got on my bike and cycled the four miles to the gym, taking my time except for one brief period of sprinting through traffic. I arrived feeling not my perfect best, but the best I had been in a long time.
I spent about an hour warming up. So by the time the test began my body was loose and limber. I was ready to go.
The first 30-40 minutes was rough. A really fast paced mix of strikes, movement, and forms. I kept my composure and focused on quality technique rather than speed or ferocity. I messed up a couple combination techniques, but at least the messed up techniques were done correctly, right?
We went to aerial kicks. These are a massive endurance drain. Yet all those endless repetitions paid off, and I fell into an easy rhythm. I felt strong and powerful, and I could have done this forever.
Falling drills make me dizzy to begin with because spinning affects me, add in new contact lenses and recovery from illness and I wondered if I was going to pass out. If you saw me jumping up or down at that part of the test that was me trying to clear my brain.
Forms came next. When I did the 3rd dan form by myself I made a couple minor mistakes but the techniques I executed felt crisp, fast, and strong. My 3rd dan co-tester Dave S did one of the better displays of the 2nd dan form I've ever seen - it exuded raw power. Since the English name of the form is 'Diamond Mountain' that he put so much power into it was awesome.
Self-defense followed, and here I was at a disadvantage. For self-defense I rely on a mix of Eskrima and Muay Thai, and the self-defense here was supposed to be different. You couldn't mix in strikes, just use turns, twists, and locks like in Hapkido (or Aikido). I tossed Dave a bit, and got tossed some as well.
In sparring I couldn't get warmed up. I haven't practiced it enough recently, so it took me a bit to get warmed up. Until the end I fought in pure linear fashion. I got scored against more than I like, but near the end I was starting to mix in much better footwork. I used punches as pushes which is a big no-no, but I did manage to land some nice kicks.
For breaking none of the strikes was a challenge except the first one, a round kick ball of foot strike. And turns out that was pretty easy too. I should have insisted on much more impressive breaks, but didn't handle that part of things so well.
And that was the test. I wish I hadn't been sick right before the test but I think I did fine. As for the others, Dave S did smashingly well, Lila was predictably awesome, and everyone else's effort was strong. I am most proud of my student Henry, because even though he was nervous he kept his composure and looked strong.
Did I pass? I don't know yet, and I am patient about finding out. That I could go and do this and do it well is what was important to me. I will be honored if I succeeded and I will work to improve myself regardless of how my performance was judged. That said, receiving the approval of my teachers, who were the ones who graded me, is no small thing.
Thanks to these people for their support on this whole thing: Mom, Dad, Seth, Joseph, Katie, Dave S, Chris, all my other friends, all my students and their families, my trainers Andrew and Samantha, and my teachers, Dave L, Mohammed, and Master Ron.
Tags: martial arts gym health legacy-dannygreenfeld