Last Tuesday night, Sept. 24, I had my first evaluation in order to potentially be promoted to yellow belt. There were, if I recall correctly, five black belts (Senseis Joanne, Aleeta, Kim, Tracy, and Jen) evaluating five adult students: Renee, Adela, Kiera, Rebecca, Owl, and me.
We lined up and went through two rounds of ten of each punch. For every set of ten, you finish with a left punch and right hand chambered, and it seems (though nobody has ever said so) that you have to hold your position no matter how long it takes for the senseis to decide what you’ll do next. The hardest thing for me was the way the back of my shoulder hurt after holding the chamber for maybe a minute, several times. Later I found out I wasn’t the only one hurting. Then we did ten or twenty of each block and each kick, also holding a block or a guard position while we waited for our next command. All of this is called standing basics.
Next we did moving basics in front stance. Step in and block and/or punch with whatever skill or combination is called out. In moving basics, it’s harder for me to keep up with the others, because I have to stop and think after I step and before I throw whatever movement(s) I’m supposed to do. We did some moving basics in another stance (the wide footed squat stance…?) and after a couple of rounds of that I was excused because I could no longer keep up at all. After that I got to enjoy watching the yellow, orange, and green belts perform their katas.
The rigorousness of the testing method and atmosphere reminded me of a few of the strength/skill trainings I’ve been through, especially the RKC (who I strongly suppose are emulating the martial arts structure on purpose). So I was glad to find that I wasn’t intimidated by the process. It helped me keep my head in the present and enjoy it. The instructors are kind and patient and direct, so it’s a very trustworthy process. I love how in each class we practice basics. There’s no sense that some people don’t need that and are impatient. And I know I’ll get smooth and fast at the combinations if I just keep showing up and cooperating. It’s nice to be old enough not to get really flustered.
I did get my yellow belt but of course I feel like as much of a beginner as ever. It was fun on Thursday when four new people joined the class.