Friday, January 04, 2013

Who would have thought 2012 would have been the “black belt year”.
The first half of the year was almost fully focused on getting ready for my black belt test.
My team consisted of 8 people: Steve, Bob, Nick, Rachel, Shell, Daryl, Jeanne and I. We went to boot camp for 3 months, trained 4 times a week, including a 3 hours long session (minimum) on every Friday evening.
Boot camp is split in 3 chapters. The first one focuses on Thai forms (5 sets of punches, elbows, kicks, knees, upper cuts), choke defenses (chokes from the front, from behind, from the side, during movement, etc.), defense from bear hugs (bear hug from the front, from behind with arms free, from behind with arms trapped), and then, my favorite, ground defenses (escape from the guard, chokes, etc.)
The second one focuses on self-defense against weapons: gun, knife and stick, and getting you in good enough shape to be able to run a mile in 8 minutes, or at least get pretty close to it.
The third and final one is a combination of the first two, plus the mile run in 8 minutes or less, 100 pushups, 125 sit-ups and, for the grand finale, 7 rounds of sparring each 3 minutes long, the first 4 with people from the team who were testing with me – and just as exhausted, and the last 3 with fresh people who came in just for the sparring portion of the test. I am telling you, it was brutal.
The level of exhaustion during the final test was beyond anything I have ever experienced. Towards the end I could barely remember my name, but I knew I had to finish the test – and when I did, ah, the joy.
When talking with fellow Black Belts prior to the test they told me that the knowledge of everything I had to do was already inside me and my instructors knew that, the final test is not so much to show how much you know, but to show you can survive it – and I did.
My partner during the 3 months of training was Rachel, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one.
When you see her walking down the street Rachel is a very pretty, completely feminine girl that wears flower dresses and has blond hair; during class, she’s badass, tough as nails, a woman who would punch your head off unless you cover, and you better cover well. She is pretty awesome.
Getting a black belt was a big deal for me. Never before had I stuck to something for so long, with so much dedication. The black belt is a token of 4 years of work; “blood, sweat and tears” as they say, but also pride, self-steam, friendship, and I don’t know if there is a word for this, but that feeling of putting all you have into a goal, and getting it – I guess it’s called accomplishment.
I wondered many times if I would be able to do it. My biggest fear was that at some point during the day (it was a 6 hours long test, plus about 30 minutes of warm up) my mind would simply rationalize the whole thing and come to the conclusion that the pain and exhaustion were not worth it, but none of that happened. On the contrary; as time went by and I was getting more and more tired, and it was getting harder to get up from the floor or keeping my hands up and my lower lip was swelling up from an elbow I accidentally got to the mouth, I just felt more determined to give it my all.
N tells me Rachel and I were pushing each other to the max; he said during the Thai forms everybody was taking it easy, considering it was the opening act to the 5.5 hours still left to go, but Rachel and I were punching hard, kicking high, giving it all from the very beginning, and hearing those words made me feel so good because if there is one thing I am taking from all this is that I left everything I had in that mat, I did not hold back, I started strong, finished strong, and now that I have that Black Belt, I know that I truly earned it … and I deserve it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's why I am so proud of you! Love you!