One 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.