You know, I can hardly believe that what was such a huge mountain in front of me only 24 hours ago is now behind me! It feels amazing, shattering, but amazing all the same. As I write this I am looking at a huge certificate with my name on that says I have been “….officially entered into the records of Seishin-Do Shukokai Karate and is herewith licensed to rank in the 1st Dan grade of shukokai Karate-Do in recognition of the degree of excellence achieved in the study of the art.” Who me? Wow!
Me and Hubby!
Of course, I also have to congratulate my husband who also passed with flying colours and made a brilliant partner. Thank you.
It was a good day, a positive day. I had been so worried that I would feel drained and negative at the end of the day and that it would feel like an anti-climax but in reality I didn’t feel like that at all. I felt fairly relaxed and positive throughout the day.
We had an early start, up at 6.00am and out of the house by 8.00. We had an hour and a half drive to the grading centre and were expected on the mats by 10.00am. After a warm up and some practice time we started the grading at 10.30 and finished at 5.30pm. Nineteen people graded – seventeen passed.
With 19 people and 15 sections to get through the grading officers had organised the day with military precision. The kihon sections were done in rows. There were 14 combinations to do in all. The front row graded first with the first two combinations then moved to the back and the second row came forward, then the third row. Then the first row did the next two combinations and so on. It took about an hour and a quarter to get through that little lot. I made my first big error during the stance combination – I stepped left into shiko dachi and everyone else in the row stepped right. They were right, I was wrong. My mistake obviously stuck out like a sore thumb!
Receiving my belt
As an aside, I was the last person on the third row. I thought this was because my last name begins with ‘W’ and we were in alphabetical order. I had rationalised that the reason my husband wasn’t standing next to me (there was a person between us) was because we were grading partners and we were being allowed a ‘1 person gap’ between me partnering him and him partnering me for our ippons and goshin waza. It wasn’t until we were driving home that my husband took joy in telling me that the reason I was last in the line was because I was the oldest person grading!
For the kata/bunkai sections we were split into two groups. One group left the grading hall to have a lunch break for an hour whilst the second group did their 3 kata and bunkai demonstrations individually. We then swapped over. I was in the second group. For me the kata demonstration was the most nerve wracking part of the grading but I managed to do all the kata without any mistakes so I’m pretty sure that section went okay.
The rest of the sections were either done in two or three groups at a time or individually with partners. My only other blunder was during the ippon kumite section. Despite having gone through all nine techniques endlessly in my mind whilst waiting for my turn (last of course, since I was the old lady!) when it came to actually do it I unconsciously substituted one of my defences to oi zuki for one of my defences to mawashi zuki. Then when I got to my mawashi zuki defences I realised I’d already shown one. I couldn’t immediately work out which oi zuki defence I’d missed out so couldn’t think quickly enough to adapt it to a mawashi zuki attack. Instead I just repeated the one I’d already done. Naturally, the sharp eyed judges noticed I’d repeated a technique! Still it was better than standing there wondering what to do.
With our instructor
The last two sections were sparring. First jiyu kumite then shiai kumite. I was partnered up with a teenage girl who was grading for 2nd dan. She was clearly a more agile and experienced sparrer than me but I thought I didn’t do too badly against her in the jiyu section (free sparring) – I got a reasonable range of kicks and punches on her, though she knew exactly how to deal with my mawashi geri kicks – catching my foot, spinning me round and thumping me in the back! In the shiai kumite section (competition sparring) I had to fight her again. According to my husband I held her off me pretty well and even scored a half point. Then I made the fatal mistake of doing a mawashi geri and again she caught my foot, span me round and punched me in the back, scoring herself a full ippon. I should have known better! So she won but it didn’t matter the grading was finally over.
We were all asked to leave the grading hall whilst the marks were added up. The atmosphere in the waiting area was very upbeat. We were all tired and glad it was over but there was a lot of camaraderie and positive talk going on. In fact, throughout the day the atmosphere had been friendly and supportive – almost enjoyable!
My fellow club members
After about 40 minutes we were called back in and lined up again. Each person’s final mark was called out and that person walked to the front to shake hands with each grading officer and receive their belt and certificate. This was obviously a difficult time for the two people that didn’t pass as they just had to stay in line after receiving their mark. They were both only youngsters and I thought they dealt with it stoically and maturely (no tears or complaints). They even came up to congratulate other people when we were celebrating at the end so I hope they both have success at their next attempt.
You know, I didn't feel as shattered at the end of the grading as I had expected to. I was tired and a little achy but not as shattered as I was after assisting at the last dan grading last November. I don't know if this is because I am fitter now than I was 6 months ago or whether that carbo-loading regime Felicia advised me on really did work - all I know is I felt okay at the end. The porridge for breakfast fuelled me for a few hours (thanks Marie) and the mango pieces were the most practical and enjoyable snack food I took (thanks Patty). I nibbled food at every opportunity (thanks Charles) and drank cranberry juice as well as water (thanks kururunfa). The other food I took that was really palatable and useful was - sushi! It contained protein and carbohydrate, was tasty, easily digestible and came in bite size pieces - perfect! I'm pretty sure all your nutritional advice helped get me through the day, so thanks.
I have a double karate class tonight so I am looking forward to stepping into the dojo with my black belt on. The belt is stiff and virtually untie-able at the moment but I'll manage!
The whole grading group!
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