Yesterday, The Master finished teaching me the material I will need to know for the rank of Black Belt. I now have six months to polish it (and everything else I've learned) - and to get myself into peak physical condition. The first test for which I will be eligible is at the beginning of June. If The Master does indeed invite me to test at that point, I want to be ready.
Having been taught all of the material is an important milestone for me. When there's material to learn, part of my mind is always in acquisition mode - keeping an eye out for The Master, prepared to stop what I'm doing and learn and memorize if he offers to teach me the next section of a form or the next hapkido move that I need. Now, my practice time will be spent running over (and over and over) what I already know. Breaking it down, fine tuning it, asking questions, fixing the tricky parts, getting the balance and timing right, transferring it to "muscle memory," putting it back together, understanding what it's about, giving it power and life, making it look and feel awesome. A process I have come to really enjoy.
Which is good, because beyond Black Belt, that is much of what I will be doing. New material is taught for the second Dan and beyond, but it's nothing like the color belt pattern of learning several new open hand forms, weapons forms, fighting and hapkido techniques, and testing every three to six months. Black Belt students have much less new material, and years, not months between tests to master it and learn to apply it. It's a different set of priorities.
Now that I have everything I need, working toward mastery of the last 3.3 years' worth of material is my new focus. And, of course, conditioning, which is ongoing, and important for keeping up my endurance and preventing injuries.
Which reminds - Savageman is waiting for me at the gym.