2005, Nov 28    

I’ve got my grading for brown belt on Saturday. 2 on 1 sparring, ground fighting and other such things are in my near future. And after that, a Cam party at the_tao’s place, which should muchly be fun, even if it is likely to be a little strange, given that I left that organisation some time ago now.

Brown belt will be a big step for me. I’m almost certain that I’ll pass my grading - I have, if anything, slightly over prepared. The grading itself, whilst making me somewhat nervous, isn’t so much what is focussing my attention. Traditionally in my system, once you have attained your brown belt, you have 12 months to do your black; perhaps a month or two more, but no less. In different schools, different tests can mean different things - for example, in Hon Tai Juijutsu, brown belt is the main physical test, and black belt a test of technique. For us, black belt is our Everest, the point in time at which we are expected to be as fit as we’ve ever been or will be, to know and be practiced every part of the base system, and to have the resolve to go through with the test, knowing that its difficulty will be tailored to the individual to make it at the extreme range of what your instructors - not you - think you are capable of. Broken ribs, concussions, passing out, etc have been features of past gradings for the 4 people who’ve passed the grading under this system (Though to be fair, another 5 or so should have passed by the time I test). This is mostly because a graded black belt is a reflection of them and their standards. On having obtained a black belt, you can consider yourself a martial artist, rather than simply an enthusiast.

What this means is that I have a year where I have to train quite hard, I have to eat the right things, adopt the right habits. I’m normally pretty good, but I tend to do whatever I want on the weekends, justifying doing so by having been good during the week. It’s always that last 10% of things that is so difficult. It’s not going to be much fun to begin with, but I know that it’s going to be worth it – I only need to look at the black and white difference it’s made in my life already. Still, salads and fish get old pretty quickly.

Of course, had I been smarter, I could have shortcutted this whole process by purchasing one of these.