Just back from the 32nd Annual World Yoshukai Karate Winter Camp in beautiful Pensacola, FL. I write this blog post tired, sore and stiff...and I wouldn't have it any other way.
After the nice drive down to the beach, greeting various members of my Yoshukai family from Alabama, Florida and California and assisting with unloading the trailer, we set up the conference room in the hotel for testing. At this point, my only feeling was "...shit just got real, son". My sandan testing buddy, Miss H, and I found ourselves walking through combinations, self defenses and board breaking set ups. I was nervous, but Miss H had a serious issue in the way of a bum ankle from falling down the stairs.
I returned to the room while Lindsay set up her fundraiser downstairs and changed into my gi.I plugged in my tunes and started trying to calm myself down...apparently, I didn't do a good enough job :-)
After bow in was the written test. I don't know why, but this bothered me because I'm prone to randomly forgetting the Japanese terms...yep, this test was no different. Thanks to Mr. B for giving me a little laugh after the Live Technique portion of the written test. Mr. B, your kakato otoshi was just fine. ;-)
We split into our groups and got started. Our group was everyone testing for nidan, sandan and Mrs. B testing for yandan. I am glad that I was in a group with Miss H and Mrs. B. Mrs. B gave me one of my first lessons when I joined karate; when I tested for shodan, Mrs. B tested for her sandan. It was a little bit of a comfort to at least have her there.
As I stood there awaiting instructions, I heard someone call me; I looked up and it was Shihan T with sage advice: "Calm. Down.". Easier said than done, but I tried...actually, I thought I was calm. Obviously not, ha!
First up; nunchakas. I was relieved because the two hardest requirements were this weapon. "How hard?", you ask...it was so hard, it nearly cost me my eye sight. No. Seriously. I didn't make it 10 counts into the second kata when I whacked myself in the left eye with my right hand. I can't really explain further, I'd have to show you...but I'm not really interested in reliving that moment. I'm sure you all understand.
There is an upside and downside to testing at this rank, in terms of judges. On the upside: they've seen you perform numerous times. They know what you are capable of, they have an expectation of what you can and can't do. On the downside: they've seen you perform numerous times. They know what you are capable of, they have an expectation of what you can and can't do. Few times throughout the test, a look here and a face there threw me off of my game. We all had a chuckle over it, but I should have been better prepared for any distractions. Between the occasional odd looks and space confinement issues, I had more little gaffes than I'd ever like to have during a test. Ever.
That said, it wasn't all bad. I feel like I nailed my open hand katas and I couldn't be happier with how self defense turned out. In fact, I was pulled aside by a Shihan who is a little more particular when it comes to self defense; that made me feel good. Sparring was fun as well. Although I was a little fatigued by that point (and I WILL fix that issue), I feel like we should have gone a few more rounds.
To sum it up:
The good: Self defense, open hand, sparring, I left the room upright & with my vision (narrowly) intact.
The bad: Nunchakas, nerves, and bo
The ugly: Yoshu-dai and nearly taking out my eye, letting Shihan P get inside my head (I owe you one, sir), combinations.
That said, it's out of my hands. Several folks whose opinions I trust said it was a solid test. We shall see. I really hope that I only have to do this once...