Today we have a guest post from Dr. J who's on hiatus (high ate us!) from Calorielab. Dr. J said he wrote his post in story form because that's what I usually do, tell a story. Then we had a secret discussion about local bakeries but I doubt he'll admit to it. Enjoy!
Student (Kyu) to Master (Dan)
“You are testing for your Black Belt today!” Few days are etched more in my memory than the day I heard those words spoken by my 6th degree Sensei as I walked into the karate class.
I knew I had been preparing for this day, but I hadn’t known that today would be the day! As he made the formal announcement to the entire class, lined up at the ready, what was a serious group became even more focused. Initially we all did our usual exercises and practices as a group, but then it was my turn to perform. After a series of simple sparing and self defense techniques, I was required to do several kata, or pre-arranged movements simulating fighting without an opponent, what I consider the physical history of the Art. Following that I engaged in free style sparing with several of the other students. This was the most serious part of the test, in my opinion, as it really demonstrated ones strengths and weaknesses to those who are judging you. After all, even with its mental and spiritual sides, karate is in the end, a martial art. At that point, I felt it was over. Not unlike when my flight instructor pulled the power off during my flying review, and asked, now what are you going to do, I was somewhat unprepared for what came next.
“Now, student J, I want you to go out of the studio, and prepare yourself, then come back inside and talk to the class about what karate means to you!”
Having just finished fighting, I was very focused. I ran to the doorway, accidentally knocking a hole in the wall as I used it to slow myself down. This was December 31st in Chicago. A cold, snow covered day. I ran down the sidewalks, barefoot, in full karate gi, never feeling the cold, mind racing. When I returned to the studio, I faced the class. I can’t remember much of what I said, but I remember the last words I spoke. “Karate is not what you can do to someone, it is what you can do for someone!”
I approached my teacher. He took off the black belt he was wearing, and with a smile, tied it around my waist.
I can’t remember what he said after that. He probably should have said, now go fix the wall.