Thursday, February 11, 2010

One more test

Well this is interesting. I've been a 2nd-degree black belt at my dojo for over two years now, and while I've considered testing for 3rd-degree, it hasn't been even a minor priority.

So much for that.

With us, you're pretty much told when you're ready to test, which doesn't mean you'll pass, just that you're ready to try. One of our brown belts is trying to coordinate dates with us to test for his black belt, and I somehow got included in the conversation since (apparently) I'm eligible for testing myself. News to me!

Physically, I'm pretty much ready. I'll probably do some endurance-building things a month out, like running (I loathe running). Mentally, I'm prepared - spirit and intention are not a problem for me anymore; I look forward to pushing myself more than I've ever had to. It's all the intellectual things that will take the most work. For example, it's the definitions of every single move in Japanese, and all the esoteric movements explained and adapted to self-defense situations that will take most of the work.

So, aside from just explaining my situation, why post this?

One thing we get at the end of our advanced testing is a round of questions from the panel of black belts. They can ask you anything from "why did you choose that form to specialize in," to "do you think A is as important as B?" Ordinarily, those are questions that are relatively simple, but mind you this is being asked after a good hour of nearly non-stop intense cardio, drills to throw you off-balance, focused spirit, and lots of impacts. Your brain is long-gone. Babbling is not uncommon! Been there, done that.

One question - asked to someone else, years ago - that I marveled at was, "how would you teach a beginner a rising block?" On the surface, it seemed pretty easy...but there was not only what the arms had to do, but the basic stance and body alignment, not to mention moving into the next block. It made me think of how *I* would teach a group of beginners the same thing. Up until that point, it really never crossed my mind!

So what about you? Think of the art you practice and ask how you would teach someone those basics. Can you put what you do into terms a group of people could follow? I guarantee that when you get to that point, then you understand not only your art better, but yourself.

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