Today begins my karate belt test. It’s a two-day affair. First, the physical test. Second, the skills test. I’m excited and ready. For me, this test is a big deal. Because of the blue belt.
It started a few years ago when my wife and I put our kids in karate at our local YMCA. Once our oldest could join the adult class, my wife started to take karate there herself. I wasn’t sure about it.
But one day after a belt test, she came home with a blue belt in her hand. When my eyes saw that cool blue color, something in me sparked. Wow, a blue belt?! I want one! If my wife can do it, so can I!
You see, I’ve practiced a few different martial arts throughout my life: Judo, American Style Karate, and Hwa Rang Do. And in each, the belt ranking was similar. Basically, yellow and orange belts (warm colors) are the first you attain.
I never practiced enough years to get past either yellow or orange belt. The cool colors, like green, blue, and purple, were the upper echelon to me. They always seemed out of reach.
So when my wife came home with that blue belt in her hand, I saw my chance to get one for myself after all these years. So I jumped into Kyokushin karate!
And now, after a long break from karate and rejoining, I am on the cusp of testing from my orange belt to my very first blue belt!
I’ve been training extra for 5 weeks to be able to pass the physical part of the test. Lots of practice exercises and calisthenics. It’s been good!
I think I can now survive the challenging physical test, day one. They push you past your limits to see if you push yourself or break down and give up. They’re trying to train you to never give up, whether in a fight or in everyday life. When tough situations come, will you quit when it gets hard, uncomfortable, or even painful?
The second day, testing for skills, knowledge, and technique, is challenging in a different way. It’s two days after the physical test, so your body may not be fully recovered physically. But you must perform the moves properly under scrutiny and time pressure. It’s more mental than physical.
If I pass both days, Lord willing, I will soon finally have my first blue belt! No it’s not black. It’s not even brown. But it’s a cooler, darker color than I’ve ever achieved in any martial art! So it’s a big deal to me.
My sons will also be testing and I’m hoping the best for them. My wife, now a purple belt, won’t be testing this time.
Once you get to purple, ranking up slows down. Mastery gets more important and challenging. You not only learn new and more difficult skills, but you must show greater improvement in the foundational techniques.
For the curious, here is a list of the belt ranking system in our Kyokushin karate school, starting at the beginning:
- Green w/stripe
- Brown w/stripe
These ten levels come before Black belt. Only at the black belt do you become a martial artist. Then there are several levels of mastering black belt.
Having a fitness goal has been great for me. My day job causes me to be sedentary, which is bad for my health. So I fight against that.
Taking karate with my family has been fun and bonding. This weekend, I practiced skills with my sons at home. We worked together towards a common goal. My oldest is also currently an orange belt going for blue with me.
He has shown great improvement! Most importantly, I’ve been proud to see him push himself. His will and spirit to do the hard work to grow has been key.
I know all too well in life how tough times can break your spirit. Your will to persevere through trials gets weak.
So I’m reminded that there’s a drive inside that kicks into gear to push you forward up the hill or through the valley depths. It can be very hard for that drive to be sparked into action. Somehow you’ve got to spark it. Meet challenges head on with determination instead of reluctance.
“Bring it on!” That’s the rally cry.
Never give up!