Well, here it is, the last week before testing. Five days to sleep and think, to run it over in my brain. Four training days left. My thoughts run the gamut from the profound to the absurd. My emotions range from near panic and insecurity, to an amazing calm and confidence. I have felt my mind’s focus narrowing as the weeks go by. I have kept it at bay so as to continue being wife, mother, teacher and friend, but as the last week unfolds, I am less and less of everything else and more and more just the karate-ka. I wonder how the samurai prepared for battle – I feel the need to do that now. To deliberately put away the outside world and prepare my body, my armor, my weapons, my mind, and my spirit to meet the challenge that awaits me. Death is what most often awaited the samurai. What awaits me?
This test – it is called Shodan – the first level – the beginner who has the basics down and is ready to begin serious training. I will most certainly pass. Sensei would not have me test otherwise. He has said I have nothing left to prove to him. The others know this as well. The testing panel has watched me and trained with me for two years now. Doshu has complimented me publicly. Sensei has called me 1 in a 1000 – he says I have “bushido”. It is not so much about passing or failing, as it is a right of passage. Personally it is a challenge to prove something to myself. To prove that I am worthy of wearing a black belt, of being called sensei. I do not feel worthy. But as I look at my life, I see that I do feel called to martial arts. I do feel a passion for it. I feel alive when I train. Martial arts is a gift that God has given me, and I feel called to share it and teach it. I have put all of myself into preparing for this, and it is enough. Perhaps that is what makes me worthy of the test, the belt, and the title.
So, whatever happens on the test, when I mess up and when I do really well, I intend to carry myself as a shodan should. I intend to learn from the mistakes and let them go. I intend to carry myself with dignity and grace and confidence. I intend to be aggressive and to be humble. I intend to look my sparring partner in the eye, kick butt, and then congratulate and hug them when it is over. I intend to get hit and hurt and continue on. (I also intend to take ibuprofen before and after the test.
My advice to myself for the test: Breath and relax. Let time slow down. Don’t rush anything. Focus on the technique right now. Let it unfold. Be aggressive. Trust Sensei. Trust God and His sovereignty. And that is what it really comes down to; God’s plan will happen, and I will be a part of it. Enjoy it.
© Rebecca A Givens 11/27/05