Black Belt

So far this week, the release of Goblin Tales  [Amazon | B&N] has pretty much dominated my brain (91 sales and counting), but I did have other news I wanted to share. On Monday, my sensei gave me my promotion form for shodan (first degree black belt).

I’m sorting out my emotions on this one. Excitement, definitely. Some anxiety as well. And there’s certainly a bit of pride in the mix, though I get pounded regularly enough that I don’t think I’m in danger of developing a swollen ego.

It’s been just over three years since I started studying Sanchin-Ryu. From what I’ve seen, that’s faster than average … but I had some martial arts background going in, and I’ve been attending extra classes for much of those three years, as well as working out with a few more experienced (and higher ranking) friends at their place.

My first Sanchin-Ryu post from March of 2008 is here, where I talk about my initial impressions and how I was invited to join my daughter in working out. (She has since chosen to stop attending classes.) I still enjoy this style and the overall atmosphere: supportive and noncompetitive, but also practical and results-oriented.

They say black belt is a beginning. That now you have a foundation, and can start to truly learn and understand the style. It reminds me a bit of selling that first novel, and the realization that after working so hard to reach that point, there’s so much more to do and learn.

Sanchin-Ryu doesn’t have the same kind of formal tests as the Tae Kwon Do classes I took as a kid. Rather, as Master Cataline puts it, every class is part of your test. Your promotion begins the day you first walk in the door.

There will still be a promotion night probably later this year, once I get my paperwork completed and turned in. And I expect to get my butt whooped that night, but it’s very different from the kind of thing Peg Kerr has been describing as she prepares for her black belt test. (Not saying one way is better or worse; just noting the differences. Also, I need to make a Sanchin-Ryu LJ icon!)

I’ve gotten a lot out of the past 3+ years of study. It greatly helps me to manage stress. I enjoy the people and the physical workout. And while I’m not ready to start moonlighting as a superninja, I do feel more confident about my techniques. Even though I know there’s so much left to learn. Or maybe because I recognize that there’s so much to learn … that perspective better highlights how much I’ve learned, too.

It’s been a good journey so far. I’m excited to see what comes next … especially if I get to learn the legendary Boot-to-the-Head technique.