For starters, I'm getting comments typed in Chinese on my blog. I'm deleting them because for all I know they're ads for penile implants, which is something I don't need. But now that I'm a black belt, people probably ascribe all kinds of Knowledge of Things Eastern to me. Like how to make kung pao beef and organize rooms to maximize the flow of energy, chi and zen. But I don't understand Chinese, written or spoken, and I imagine my Chinese fans will soon abandon their efforts to reach out to me via the comment box. I do speak some French, Spanish and Pig Latin, though. O-say eave-lay our-yay omments-cay at-thay ay-way if-ay ou-yay ike-lay.
I haven't had to register my hands as lethal weapons, although I did call my state representative to ask about this. He assured me that even though I am a black belt, I can go about my usual business. I don't even need a special sticker on my drivers license.
In "Black Belt Class" (heretofore referred to as BBC, not to be confused with the storied news service sponsored by our friends across the pond) we work with all kinds of weapons, so I'm now the proud owner of a bo staff (silver--graphite--v. light and durable). We've just begun the bo staff unit in BBC. I've had lots of complements on my staff (a Christmas gift to myself) but not too many on my handling of it...yet. I love the bo staff compared to nunchuckas, though. Less wobbly, easier to control, and seems like a preferable weapon in a fight if you ask me. The length of it means you can keep your enemy further away and if all else failed, you could use it to poke their eye out. Plus, I twirled baton when I was young and a lot of the bo staff moves are exactly the same. (No, I do NOT like bo staff best just because Taylor Lautner studied it.)
Studying bo staff means learning a form to demonstrate knowledge of all the strikes and defenses and learning two coordinating forms--attacking and defending. The latter is tricky because you learn both but do one part while your partner does the other. Last night I was defending while my partner was attacking, but I kept wanting to do what she was doing. This doesn't work so well because every move I make is a counter move to what she does. I like the mental challenge of this and I'm optimistic that I'll master bo staff soon. Then I get to move on to sword, kamas and escrima sticks (which should be a breeze since I've watched Mr. T go over the escrima form a thousand times and can recite it in my sleep). From the little I know about these other weapons, I think I'll still like the bo staff best.
The awesomeness factor of owning new weapons aside, we study grappling in BBC. This is absolutely awful. I always end up pinned and I'm terribly self-conscious grappling teenaged boys, teenaged girls, the other women my age, and my instructors. I only know a couple of submission holds and can barely maneuver my way out of gar position. Grappling is sweaty and involves way too much contact for my taste. It's humbling to be so bad at something. My sole victory came Monday night during combat sparring. During combat sparring you try to take your opponent down to the ground--sparring and grappling combined. I actually pinned an instructor (and it wasn't a "pity pin" either). It happened in part because I was 100% focused on grappling, not on anything else. It didn't matter that his feet were in my face or that I had to lay across his chest or that I smelled like Old Locker Room Sweat. All that mattered was NOT getting pinned and I had the first taste of success in this area of study. Even so, I'd rather spar than grapple any day.
Another requirement of working on 2nd degree is mastering a form called "Velocity." As indicated by it's name, the form moves fast, with a lot of jumps. In my opinion it is wrong to ask anyone over 26 to perform this form. Mr. O just laughed when I shared my opinion. I've learned the form and don't look like a total sclub doing it. Nor do I look amazing.
BBC is demanding, physically and mentally, and aside from getting tossed on my back once or twice a week during grappling lessons, it's fun.
As I'm working on a query letter to accompany my (nearly finished!) manuscript Kicks Like a Girl, I can write "I'm a black belt in karate" which makes me sound cooler than I actually am in real life.
And I'm still getting my 3 miles in, but I'm skiing them sometimes because running indoors is NOT the same as running outside and xc-skiing is better exercise. I have to mainain my black belt physique--people expect you to look pretty fit when you claim to have a black belt in anything.
This pretty cool XMA bo staff demonstration gives you an idea of why this weapon cooler than swords or nunchuckas or escrima sticks: