First, let me back up to the beginning of June…..
It was a week before my Karate examination for Shodan and I made sure that I did everything I could to take my black belt on the day of my exam. I trained harder than ever before. I did over 300 katas in the two months before the exam, studied my Japanese terms, did stance training and pushed myself harder in my classes than I ever did in the past. I walked into that exam more than ready to take my rank and earn my black belt.
Two days after my exam, I learned that I had passed. After almost six years of training, taking up to five classes a week at one point, reading every Karate book that I could get my hands on, assisting with Karate classes for over three years and living, breathing and sleeping Karate, I had reached the top of the mountain. I was a Shodan and the thing that I wanted most, my black belt, was wrapped tightly around my waist. I am pretty sure that I was walking two inches taller than I was before I came to class that day.
That same day, I was in the parking lot talking with Sensei Noia and Sensei Plocharczyk after class and they both mentioned that now the fun begins and I will really start to learn what Karate is about. Sensei Plocharczyk also mentioned, that at this point, I will learn how little I actually know about Karate. I was still living in the moment and even though I heard what my Sensei’s said, it didn’t really sink in.
Fast forward a few days…
I was taking my Thursday class and realized that some of the same things that I was doing wrong for the last weeks, months or years, I was still doing wrong that day too. In my Friday class, Sensei Brien mentioned something that made me think even more about what I do not know. We were all doing kata and started with Heian Shodan and continued up to Heian Godan. After about Heian Sandan, Sensei mentioned something that I don’t remember him saying before. He said that many of us are doing our katas the same way we did them when we first learned them. His point was, even though most of us in the class are brown and black belts, we are still doing our katas like we did when we were lower belts. When we did Heian Nidan, we did it like an orange or yellow belt where as we should look like a brown or black belt doing a lower rank kata. Sensei Cieplik has also mentioned many times, do lower belt kata with higher belt knowledge.
So what does this mean…
Maybe others have found out different than me but I now know that I really am starting over again. I have to take the fundamentals that I have learned over the years and now apply them to all areas of my Karate. I need to do all of the lower belt katas that way I do the higher belts katas.
I have to admit, these are exciting times for me because my Karate journey is not ending, instead it has just begun.