Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Go get 'em son!

Ayup, takes some big news to bring me back to posting it seems. And this once, the big news isn't about me but about Andrew. My boy has been picked to test for his third kyu on April 26th. Go Andrew!!!!

The week after I passed my 2nd kyu (which was also a third kyu or brown belt test), we'd been told that another brown would come "soon". That was back in mid February. Since then, I'd heard good comments about Andrew, that he was working hard, that he knew all his techniques to test, that his katas were coming along nicely, so much so that it crept to the back of my mind that he could be getting close to testing. Because of that, I gotta say I was not completely surprised yesterday when I heard his name being called, even though, I didn't really expect it either. :)

When he last tested, for his 4th kyu (brown stripe on his green belt) back in December, he'd been told that his testing had been delayed because he wasn't chambering his fists at the hip when punching and had a bit of a case of lazy stances (forward and horse stances mainly). He had in fact tested way later than most of his friends of the same level, with whom he's been going to class for a long while. That had not seem to bother him much at the time and I've never put any pressure on him to achieve anything as far as belt progression goes, as long as he puts the effort in every class he goes to. And effort, it seems he's been putting it since the Christmas break and now it's paying off. I remarked to him yesterday that this time around, he was the first of his friend to be picked to test. That just shows me, and him, how hard he's worked.

That brown belt has a little magic in it, it comes with a black stripe on it. I remember when I got mine, almost a year and a half ago, he went all "woah dad, black stripe means black belt is the next big step" and now he's the one thinking about testing for that same brown belt. Needless to say I'm very proud of my boy. :)

If there's only one little thing that bothers me with that test, it's the timing of it. April 26th is only two days before the big competition that is the Quebec Open, the biggest competition in the area, arguably one of the bigger ones in the Country and one of the big ones in North America. Getting that brown belt on the 26th will have him move from the intermediate to advanced underbelt class, being the lowest ranked brown belt. Advanced is brown belt only, but you can spend anywhere from 1.5 to 2+ years with your brown belt. There's no arguing that a kid who just got his brown belt is nowhere close to where a kid who's had it for 2 years and his a month away from testing for his black belt would be. Sure this kind of thing happens in other categories but the advanced class is the roughest of the underbelt categories. In lower classes, there's a real difference in color between the belts, i.e. intermediate is blue/blue with green stripe/green/green with brown stripe, while brown is brown with either one, two or three black stripes. Still and again, you can spend a full year with only one stripe (symbol of being a 3rd kyu) before testing for your 2nd kyu, just like I did. There was a world of difference between the Steve of January 2005, right after I passed my 3rd kyu, and the Steve of January 2006, right before I was to test for my 2nd kyu. The one good thing I'm seeing in Andrew is that he's turned his focus from going to karate in order to get ready for a competition to simply going to better himself, paying more attention to what the instructor is showing. Almost every week in the car on the ride back, he would answer my questions about what he'd worked on with some new self defense techniques he'd learned while before he was sometimes a little vague, kind of a sign that he was not always paying full attention. This has definitely changed...

That being said, him being in a tougher competition class becomes kind of secondary. I think he'll just be too proud of that brown belt achievement to ask for a delay so he can compete in a lower class. :)

And how's daddy doing on his side of things?

Very well thank you. In fact, I'd almost say extremely well. I like how I'm progressing within the art, how I see things now that I didn't see before. I like how I'm not so flustered when put into a situation of improvised self-defense. I like how more natural my katas seem to flow.

Am I perfect? God knows I'm not, and even better, I know it too. But I'm progressing and what's more, I'm enjoying it.

Would I be ready to test for a black belt now? I don't think so, but as I have been told, one never really thinks he/she is ready for a black belt test until it's over. Last I heard, the black belt test was set for May 26 and anybody selected to take it would have to take their 1st kyu test (aka black belt pre-test) prior to it. Given the fact that these 1st kyu test are usually one month prior to the black belt test, that would give me very little time to put the finishing touches to my training. I know my cat 3 kata is ready, my club and open hand self defense techniques are all coming out quite good and my freestyle self defense is better than it's ever been.
I'm just thinking out loud here though, nobody has approached me and told me to be ready for the test, I just happen to realize that I'm getting closer. And as I said in this post, my Monday instructor's atttitude is giving me (possibly false) signals that he looks like he expects me to be ready. I get this feeling he speaks directly to me whenever he asks us to go and work on some randori, and the little corrections he now gives me on Cat 3 are now the very subtle ones (i.e. more twists of the hips, more snap of the fist to the hip, in the blocks, the punches, etc...).

One thing I still need to work on is Sushi no kon sho, the bo kata. I know it, but it's still kind of robotic. But the moment I decide to really get myself into it, I know I will put it together and nail it after a while. I guess that's just being self confident...

I hope I'm not coming off as too cocky, I simply like how it's going on right now. I'm in maybe the best shape I've been in the last couple of years and while this may not say much compared to other youngsters in our classes, I can feel it when our instructors push us. When I could only do 12 pop-corn jumps while others did the whole 15, now I can do the 15 with everybody else. While I had a hard time holding the second 30 seconds sesion with my feet six inches off the floor while on my back, now I can do two and three sessions, interspersed with crunches or situps. I feel good.

Training, training, training is the word of the moment.
Fun, fun, fun is the feeling of the moment.
Be ready for anything is the attitude...