Among Friends

Ceinture_De_Karate_Ou_Judo_clip_art_greenOne of the things I’ve tried to be aware of in my belt tests has been who else is there.  I’m finding that with each test I’m building very good memories.

Right before the start of my recent test for 5th kyu (green belt) I looked around and I realized that I knew all the karateka present and they knew me.  That’s what comes of training regularly in three dojos and intermittently in a fourth and fifth.  Being among so many acquaintances and friends made me feel at ease.  I was able to give and receive a lot of encouragement from all ranks.

When we lined up, standing to my right in Sempai position was my “Big Brother,” who has spent hours teaching me kata.  Somewhere behind me was a little boy whom I had taught for a few weeks when he was just beginning.  My mentor, my protégé, and me – all about to face the challenges of our respective tests.  I focused on that during meditation.  It was an incredible feeling.

I was very happy when Affiliate YMCA Dojo’s head instructor called out the moving basics.  I knew he’d come up with fiendishly tricky stuff for us to do, and I was not disappointed.  I actually thought it was fun – it felt like being in one of his classes.

I sparred with a teenage girl from Affiliate Y Dojo.  When we were all given a bit of a breather while the black belts tallied scores, she admitted to having been scared of me.  I told her she should ask her Sensei how to defeat me, then next time we spar she should beat the snot out of me.  Then we’ll both get better.  I’m looking forward to that.

It was really fun to receive my certificate from College Sensei, who has known me ever since I started hanging around the dojo just to watch my daughter do Karate.  Now I’m Sempai to his dojo.  I received my pretty new belt (5th kyu – green) from the hands of Affiliate Y Dojo’s head Sensei, who frequently leads Saturday training. As I bowed to him I remembered that he promoted to 4th Dan (4th degree black belt) the same day I promoted to 6th kyu (purple with a stripe).  I have great memories of his amazing performance of kata and bunkai for his test.

Near the end of the promotion ceremony I set aside my previous belt.  I thought about when I earned the belt itself (7th kyu – purple) and the stripe on it (6th kyu).  One of my Home Dojo senseis had to move away, and the last time I saw him, he presented me with the belt.  I remembered again the stripe on that belt was earned the same day that the Sensei who presented me with the new belt was himself promoted.  I got a little misty-eyed at all the memories centered around that purple belt.

As I tied on my new belt I sneaked glances around the room at all my friends and acquaintances and wondered what new memories I’ll be forging with them while I wear the pretty green belt.

Author: Joelle White

I began training in Karate in June of 2014 after a 27 year hiatus.

5 thoughts on “Among Friends”

  1. It’s great to be in that sort of environment. I know most people in our network too since I cross train still. My next grading is a panel one like yours. In some ways it frightens me but in others I am kind of glad it is that way because everyone I am going for the test with and everyone on the panel is likely to have influenced my training in one way or another. Enjoy your pretty new shiny belt. Green is a nice place to be. Osu.

  2. Sounds like such a lovely day Joelle! Congratulations on your new belt! Do you prefer to hold onto your old belts (for sentimental reasons) or pass them on to junior students? It’s lovely to pass them on through the club membership; but on the other hand, I was talking to a sensei the other day who still has his brown belt (from his teenage days), as he says that was a very special period of his life . . .

    1. Thanks, kai! I do hold on to my belts for sentimental reasons. We can’t pass belts along to juniors because of the stripes. Here’s how that works: the only times we get new belts are 9th, 7th, 5th, and 3rd kyus and of course Shodan. For 8th, 6th, and 4th kyus most of us use medical tape to make a stripe (I used fabric tape and ribbon). That messes up the belts a little – adhesives are difficult to remove. 3rd-1st kyus probably could pass their belts down because they don’t get to put stripes on their belts – they have to get to know each other well enough to know where they stand in line relative to each other. That said, our organization encourages everyone to hold onto and cherish their old belts.

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