Enter the Shodan

It is official I am now a Shodan, words cannot describe how I feel, it was an amazing weekend of training one that I especially never want to forget. Five and half years it took me, and after failing in many things I have achieved one of my life long goals (the other training in China). For the last few months I have felt depleted it didn’t matter what I did I was lethargic but I kept training as hard as I could.

However this weekend my energy levels returned and I put in as much to the training over the weekend as I could, at several points my mind couldn’t cope with the sheer volume of the information, needing to keep what I needed for the grading. I went through sheer dread and fear (why am I here, I don’t like pain) to confidence that I had trained hard and that I could do it (which never happens to me before a grading, there is always doubt). On the Sunday I got to fight in the Nidan 30 man Kumite which was a huge honour. You want to give them your absolute best but you don’t want to injure yourself for your own grading.

When the time came at lunch time getting ready for my grading I had to become focused on one thought, people around me were wondering where my constant sense of humour at disappeared to. Big Chris (he was going for 2nd kyu) asked me if I was grading because I looked so calm, I found it completely ironic as I was controlling these waves of emotions all around me (ones that had drained my batteries for the last few months).

Both sides of my thoughts completely intensified during the grading, more than I had ever known before, but we were going for Shodan, I really appreciated the Nidan’s helping us out during the grading, whether it was to push us harder or cheer us on to how we control our breathing. (As I started to pant and not breathe deeply which made a huge difference everytime I needed to recover and explode with energy.

I  recall seeing my best friend completing his grading for shodan-ho and I was happy for him but had to focus on my task, the fighting was hear this was our time, my time. I was so much happier with my sparring this year compared to last year, I stuck to range fighting with the girls able to use a bit of tensho for entry (I got complimented by one Nidan for showing control, still pushing them and giving them my best, which of course is ironic because a Sandan told me now I need to work on my control more but that was aimed at weapons defence when I was confronted with being attacked by a Jo which surprised me and I just reacted by instinct. It’s all Go and Ju I have so much to work on!) I faced aussie mike (although he is a  kiwi) a big guy and I was able to go toe to toe with him, able to blast my knees in before he could, it was the first time I could see someone chambering up for strikes and I was able to get in there faster) some other fights are a bit of a blur but I was really happy that the kickers did kick me in the head, apparently it was because I kept rushing into them), I used some flying knees, I got fight the guy who trained me which was a huge honour. Then I got to fight the final guy, It was nearly Andy from Bristol but it was Simon from London. I was smiling inside these two I consider some of the best karate fighters I had ever seen and if I could fight half as well as them I would be proud. So I gave it all with Simon, I’m pretty sure I surprised him with a flying knee (which I use so I can get into close range) and we were fighting close quarters, the London Shihan  Mulholland kept breaking us up, my thoughts were Ah he is amazing at long range I want to be inside his range! It is strange from long range I feel less powerful, that a lot of my energy dissipates, where as in close quarters I am charged up, one strike gives power to another as Goran Powell put it dynamic tension during his  lesson (I’m using Sanchin baby!!!). I made it, I felt like I had a huge smile on my face, I faced an opponent I consider the crème of a karateka. Then it was the board break, everyone was choosing punches, I recall asking Shihan for tetsui but he shook his head, I had to face another fear and punch the board, I showed him my fist for my intended strike and he nodded. When one person breaks and kia’s then the next one would kia and break going down the row of 9 of us going for blackbelt. It must have been a surreal sight, I couldn’t believe that I did it even feel the board. Then we finished off and it was huge jubilation, when I went for Shodan-ho I felt like I barely made the last three fights, but this time I felt like I could of gone for three more fights, my energy levels were crazy. We did it, I did it I am so proud to be a part of this club, this association. We celebrated well, I even got made to walk across the campfire which I have never had any intention of doing so, curtsey of mike it was surely a weekend of doing things I thought that I would never be able to do.

It was an emotional roller coaster ride, before during and after my grading, some of my friends keep saying so your going to go for Nidan in three years’ time, my response is that I earned this belt and its up to me to prove each day why I earned it and that is to improve me as a karateka I I truly feel like a beginner again, there is so much to tidy upon polish up, learn, adapt its finally time to take my responsibilities.




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