At the time of writing, it’s two weeks or less until I go for grading. I’ve worked hard for the past six months, so I should feel prepared. Even so, it seems inauspicious to post this until after the fact, so I won’t…..but I will leave it as it is; a record of what I am feeling and going through right now.
When I graded to yellow, just shy of six months ago, at what is now my home dojo, I was still a visitor. At that stage I was cross training and had been invited to grade alongside everyone else. Looking back, I can see this was a turning point for me. It was an honour to be invited to grade at all really, and possibly something a bit outside the box. It threw a few spanners in the works too, at least at the time, but in the end everything worked out ok, and here I am now, a happy member of the gang, training alongside a phalynx of keen karateka, hopefully about turn green together. I guess all things happen for a reason even if at the time, you can’t fully fathom what that reason is.
I digress. As I prepare for grading, from a physical perspective, (daily kata work, kihon, as well as general fitness and flexibility), I have also been doing a lot of mental preparation. I’ve read the grading requirements and I’ve watched someone undertake the test from yellow to Green. It’s quite a step up in terms of what one needs to know, and be able to demonstrate. This is highly significant.
Green seems to be the line in the sand, that separates the men/women from the boys/ girls, the wood from the trees, or, more explicitly, the serious karateka from the less serious. So, actually, it’s not all about action, but it’s also about intention, commitment, and mindset.
To achieve even the physical requirements alone, requires a degree of dedication that extends well beyond the physical walls of the dojo. Unless you’re some sort of karate prodigy, (which, I hasten to add, I am most certainly not), training for a few hours per week during class, with no outside practice, is not likely to cut it. The kata are too difficult now to learn by osmosis, and the standard of kihon expected is higher; just going through the motions is not good enough.
To fully prepare oneself for being green, one needs to embrace the fact that karate is part of who one really is. This isn’t even just about making time and space to physically practice karate outside the confines of the dojo. It’s more about making time and space within oneself for an internal kind of dojo; the kind of dojo one carries throughout life. You are making a commitment to travel. Now is the time to start packing your things and preparing for the journey that starts at shodan and continues however long you let it. You may not have booked your flights just yet, but you are definitely putting money away for the ticket.
Train hard, friends. Hope to see you all on the other side. Osu
16th November 2015: Newsflash – The grading test was tonight and we are now team green machine! Osu!