I achieved the rank of Nidan (or second degree black belt) last weekend at the Dojo where I train (Stronger You: http://www.strongeryou.com/). The ranking required about six months of intensive training before hand. For my training buddy and me the last couple of months involved being at the dojo every day of the week for some type of training or fitness work. There were five of us training together to rank up to Nidan, 21 grading students in total.
For those of you who have read some of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I really seriously questioned the wisdom of doing what I was during the process leading up to my grading. Fundamentally I didn’t believe that I could successfully grade up, I didn’t believe I could remember all I needed to remember and be fit enough to keep up. As it turned out though, I did. I didn’t punk out, I was able to be a full and participating member throughout the grading and I did remember all that I needed to in order to satisfy the requirements of the grading Senseis.
The outdoor challenge on Sunday morning was probably my personal baliwick during the grading. The challenge involved a significant amount of time spent in the sand, either running through it, crawling through it, or wrestling. I had to struggle to reconcile this work with my karate training, and it really wasn’t until it was over and I had a chance to process what we had done that I understood the value of the exercises. Karate isn’t just about having the perfect kick or the right stance, it is about having a mindset that will allow a sensei to prevail no matter what is thrown at him or her.
When I graded up from brown belt to Shodan (first degree) black belt I remember feeling as if I was starting all over again. That everything I had learned, I was going to have to re-learn. However, I don’t have that feeling as strongly this time around, what is more prevalent for me is the sense that I know what I need to learn and now I need to settle down and start getting the precision and the finesse into my training. It is time to start looking like the black belt that I am.