Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On the path to Nidan

These past months have been demanding as I prepared for my Nidan test.

I have put forth much effort towards being able to perform at my highest level all the while knowing that one cannot "cram" for this kind of test, and that it was the years and years of consistent training that has built up my solidity to the point where I could face this challenge.

I am built up by the support of my close family, Sensei, dojo mates, friends, supervisors at work,  and co-workers. I so appreciate their positive energy.

Going to work with a limp, and bruises from my efforts brought up the question from one of my friends of "Why does it have to be so difficult?" The only answer that I could provide at the time was "It wouldn't be a second level black belt test if I showed up and was asked to blow up a dozen balloons, would it?  The test has to pull out the best in me.. and well.. since I have accumulated skills and knowledge, the best will be very difficult."

I have watched many a belt rank test now, and realized that it is the consistency of training that shows, or doesn't show.  If a student puts forth an honest, and constant effort to practice over and over as they learn a skill.. their body just knows what to do, and how to do it. This goes for learning a piece of music, or kneading bread, or crocheting, or striking a pad with a spinning back kick.

Those students who think that they can show up to a test, and pull a rabbit out of their hat at the last moment are deceiving themselves.  An experienced eye can see the awkwardness of the moment.. the stiff "almost wishful" sudden effort of someone who is trying to make their body do the movement that it isn't familiar with.  They aren't fooling anyone but themselves, and if these people "pass" the test it is by the tolerance of the testing panel... but the truth is that they have not accumulated the necessary skills for that rank level and therefore will suffer even more the next time that they attempt to test for a higher rank.  If a child did not learn the skill of  how to multiply and divide numbers at elementary school, they will be sorely disappointed when they have to start working with fractions in Junior High, and nearly inundated with sorrow when they hit algebra in High school. Therefore, someone who could have done well in their efforts finds themselves flailing because of a lack of a foundation.  The question becomes "will they be willing to humble themselves, accept the truth that they need to work on simple things that they thought they knew, and improve their position so that they CAN achieve a higher rank with the necessary abilities?"

This isn't a shameful thing. It takes courage, inner strength, and a willingness to do what it takes to improve.. and that is something that I could and would respect in a person.