Here's the official report from my weekend at the dojo: almost everything hurts but I'm going to survive. Here's some Karate 101 for those of you new to martial arts: Training for a black belt test is a 2-month process involving hours of pushing through all the karate you know and proving your fitness with things like a 3-mile run and pyramid drills. Last time I did this, the head instructor was dramatic, wasting a lot of time and energy trying to get us to feel the pain of earning a black belt. This time around Mr. O's in charge and he's matter of fact. No screaming, no histrionics. He expects and demands a lot, but doesn't work the kids into a frenzy of wailing. I certainly appreciate how he gets down to business.
This round the candidates include 2 brothers testing for 3rd degree; a teenaged boy, me and 2 6th grade girls testing for 2nd degree; and about 7 kids testing for 1st degree. Because I'm testing for 2nd degree, I get to skip a lot of the B.S. (boring stuff, bull sh*t, basic stances--call it what you will) and head to the other room to work over 2nd degree curriculum like weapons. My fellow candidates decided we'll focus on the bo staff complex (easy), escrimas (easy) and swords (wicked tough).
Mr. O assigned our partners--mine is the teenaged boy, LI. He's at least a head taller and considerably stronger, big into wrestling and very militant. No slacking on his watch. Last time I tested my partner dropped out after the first night so I got paired with whichever instructor happened to be free to work with me. It's much different having my very own partner this time around. LI's a lippy kid, but we'll get along fine because I dish it back to him.
I taped up my left ankle for the first time Friday night and to my astonishment, that athletic tape gave me enough support to do 10 consecutive spin kicks on both sides and attempt some jumping I'd been loath to try before Friday. I came home sore, sweaty and pleased that my injuries won't hold me back.
Saturday we started training with our 3-mile run. My goal was to come in 4th--behind the 3rd degree brothers (18 and 20 years old, both in excellent shape) and my partner. I hadn't counted on one of the other candidates beating me, but I clocked a 27:53, no shame in that since I was hoping to beat 28 minutes. Then we hit the floor and worked on pads and body shields--hand combinations (like jab-punch-hook-punch) and kicks. My ankle still held up, but I got the stuffing knocked out of me absorbing my partner's kicks and punches. He drove me back a few feet every time he pummeled the pad--and I hold 2 pads to protect myself. Our "break" involved reviewing the bo staff complex and then we returned for more drills. My hands were shaking from punching so hard and getting punched so hard. I felt pretty stiff Saturday night, but this morning I woke up really cramped up. I can't even guess how many push ups and sit ups and jumping jacks and kicks I did. Hundreds of each would be a fair estimate.
This whole training/testing business is a huge demand on my time, especially during the weekends when Team Testosterone has flag football, soccer and assorted social events on the calendar. The physical part won't kill me, but it makes little things--like bending over to tie my shoes--more challenging than normal.
One weekend down and I'm still kicking.
Spill it, reader. How did your weekend go?