Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Red. Stripe.

Class ended early today.  The Master lined us up to bow out, then had us sit or kneel with our eyes closed for meditation while he left the room.

We all knew what that meant.  It was time to hand out promotion results.

He returned and had us open our eyes. My name was called first.  "Testing for First Gup: Red Stripe - Kathleen Savage."  I stood and went to the front to receive my certificate and shake his hand.  Everyone clapped.  The other promotions were awarded as well, and we bowed out.

After class, I reported to his office, where he applied the tape to my belt himself and congratulated me once more.  The one thought that kept going through my mind was that this was the last time I would be presented with a belt promotion at the end of a class.  I have received 9 such color-belt promotions in the 3 1/4 years I've been at the school.  The next time I receive a belt, it will be at the conclusion of my black belt test, in the presence of the others testing, my superiors at the school, and any friends and family who are there to watch.   

Dare I calculate how many hours went into this one promotion?

Roughly 24 hours per week of classes, conditioning, and open practices...

times 14 weeks...

equals about 336 hours since my red belt test in June. 

At this pace, I should have at least another 1000 hours ahead of me as I prepare for my black belt test.

I have three open hand forms, another longstick form, and more hapkido to learn, as well as fine-tuning all of my old material so that I know it forward and backward, inside and out.  I need to be in exceptional physical condition, able to do endless burpees, pushups, punches and squats, able to hold a horse stance for crazy lengths of time, and of course, able to fight multiple opponents for as long as is required of me.  And then still think clearly enough to execute any of 19 lengthy open hand forms and 7 weapon forms with proper stances and chambers - not to mention the 25 fighting techniques, 50 hapkido techniques, the judo throws, the hand techniques, kicks, punches, falls and moving concentrations.

It blows my mind when I think about how much material we actually know by the time we reach this point. 

It also blows my mind to consider the fact that, once again, the people with whom I will be testing are likely to be decades younger and male.  I will have to continue to work twice as hard at conditioning if I want to match their endurance. 

Tomorrow, I'll be back at the gym, running and lifting in the morning, conditioning and training at the dojang in the evening. 

For at least the next eight months, "How much practice can I work in today?" will be the foremost question on my mind as I power up with my morning coffee.  Or energy shake.


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