Last night was the night I've been anticipating for weeks. I was tested for and was awarded my 2nd kyu brown belt. At the moment, I'm having conflicting emotions about the whole thing. Don't get me wrong -- I am absolutely thrilled to have tested last night, but at the same time, my inner critic is dredging up the negative portions of my test. I am definitely my worst critic.

I had conveniently forgotten just how tough it is to have an intense warm up (that not only includes exercises, but also basic forms), and then have to step out on the floor and begin your test. The warm up really did a number on my stamina. I've been getting out easy on the previous couple months' warm up. Either we would do a light stretch, or I would be pulled out from the group of students and worked with on something else just as the rest got started. Last night, we had a pretty intense cardio-type session. Note to self -- work on conditioning!

After the warm up, basics, and punching, J, a green belt (going for blue belt) and I were called onto the floor for our tests. We started off with advanced forms, and then moved on to sparring. That's the area that really hurt us. We started out sparring each other. My instructions were to spar down to just above his level – the black belts were mainly focusing on J’s sparring for this round. The problem area was that we weren’t doing a whole lot as far as initiating and committing to our techniques, but did end up being the aggressor for the whole spar and J was mostly on the defense. After a lot of pushing and prodding from the black belts for him to fight back more, the black belts finally went for the ultimate: “For this spar, your blue belt is on the line, so you better start sparring like you want it.” That helped a little, but not enough. My instructors had me step out and one of the black belts stepped in.

For my spar, I was given the option of choosing which black belt I wanted to spar. My spar went along the lines of what I mentioned earlier about ‘not initiating and not committing to the techniques enough.’ I’m not sure what’s holding me back, but I recognized during the spar that I was holding back, and it frustrated me to no end. I did a lot of circling, but I mainly stayed just outside his kicking range. It took a lot of prodding from the black belts for me to actually get in close and start sparring like I should. I finally did toward the end of the spar, but it was not soon enough and intense enough for my instructors’ liking.

Next, was 1-steps, and then I had to demonstrate my eight self defense scenarios. If sparring was my weak area for my test, then my self defense was my strongest. They went over well – everything went smoothly and I applied the techniques effectively, to the point that when Mr. G attacked me with a roundhouse punch, I hit his arm with enough force and just so on the nerves that his arm went numb and by the end of the night, he was still feeling some of the numbness.

By the end of the night, I was exhausted and desperately wanting to get home and take a hot shower, but I left class as a 2nd kyu brown belt.

Today, I have quite a few reminders from my test. I have three bruises on my legs from sparring, my shoulders and arms are complaining about all the punching, and my lower back and thighs are sore from the warm up we did.

I can see now that there's quite a lot I need to work on and some of these things I'm putting at the top of my priority list from now on. I need to work on getting in shape and improving my sparring ability and endurance.

I have class again tomorrow and I have this gut feeling that we’re going to work on sparring. Whatever we do, I need a good stretch to try to relieve some of this soreness before class.


Michele said...


Felicia said...

Congratulations, Ariel! Sounds tough, but you were up for the challenge or you wouldn't have been graded. And I hear you about the conditioning - but know that it is designed that way so that your graders can see you in action when your tank is almost on empty. The good news is you didn't get too sucked into what I call "Kung Fu Fighting" - y'know that 15 minutes of all-out stuff they do in the kung-fu movies that we know simply ain't possible. You conserved and reserved (my old sensei's favorite saying :-)

I know you are busy, but perhaps some ancillary training outside of the dojo (i.e. running, lifting, kickboxing, whatever) might help you with the conditioning. Even the idea of knowing you've done "other stuff" can go a long way mentally when it comes to doing your thing on grading day.

Very proud of you, BTW! Congrats again on advancing to second kyu :-)

SueC said...

Well done Ariel- welcome to 2nd kyu land!

Ariel said...

Thank you, Michele!

Thanks, Felicia! I like your sensei's saying -- conserved and reserved. Yes, I'm definitely going to start doing some running and lifting. I just need to work out a schedule for it so that I'll stick with it.

Thanks, Sue! The view up here in 2nd kyu land is lovely, but the way up is even higher than before...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! :-)

Ariel said...

Thanks, Frank! =)

Guilherme R. Fauque said...

Very cool your blog!

I will come back here again. Congratulations!

I invite you to know my blog too.

The address:


There are a translator on the top right of the blog. Normally I write in english too, but sometimes I have no time (and patience), so leave in the original language (portuguese) - LOL

Ikigai said...

Nicely done. Also, I like the improvements you are making on the blog. Keep it up!

Ariel said...

Thank you for commenting, Guilherme! I'll definitely check out your blog.

Thank you, Matt! I've been wanting a banner for my blog for quite a while, and so when I asked someone to make it for me, I decided to revamp the layout also.