Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wherein Will Attains the Rank of Purple Stripe

Subtitled Wherein Wendy is introduced to one of the more nerve-wracking aspects of motherhood.

Will tested for his second belt on Friday. Sensei Pat assured us that the testing was really a formality; the students would all be completely ready for the test and it was more about going through the belt ceremony. Will invited J.B., Maria and Jakob, his good friend from our homeschool group, to watch. It was so different from what I expected. Not only were the Little Tigers testing, the regular Shotokan students were also testing. There were probably well over 100 people in the studio. (Is it a dojo? Most of my martial arts knowledge, unfortunately, comes from the Karate Kid movies. Wax on! Wax off!) Maternal blood pressure check: 150/90. Only slightly elevated.

5:30, time to begin. One of the black belts shouted gruffly, "Line up by class!" Um, the Little Tigers meet at the Y; they don't know how things work at the studio. The older students shouted "YES SIR" and scrambled into formation, and the little kids pretty much freaked out. All the parents hissing instructions from the edges of the mats probably didn't help. Maternal blood pressure check: 150/100. Deep breaths.

They tested the higher-ranking belts in younger kids' group first, so Will & the other white belts got to see what was going to happen. That left some time for them to chat on the sidelines, which is heartily frowned upon. There is a set of twins in his class who need to check in with each other constantly. One of the black belts from the judging panel kept coming over and warning them that one of their stripes could still be taken away, making them ineligible to test. I started thinking about how I would just die on William's behalf if we brought friends out to watch him not get a belt after all. I tried to focus on my breathing and go to a happy place, but before I got there one of the twins had turned and started talking to Will. Little beast! I'll roundhouse him so hard the other one will bruise, too. Maternal blood pressure check: probably 165/110. Will completely ignored him, 'pressure back down around 160/100.

Sensei Pat called Will's group to stand. He happened to be on the end. Quick bargaining session with God that she would start at the other end of the line when drilling individually. God apparently rejected my best offer and Sensei started with my boy. Mercifully it was something he knew; I can't even remember what it was. Maria told me later that at one point everyone was doing the opposite of what William was doing and she thought he had it backwards, but it turned out he was the only one who was right. I didn't see that, which I'm sure saved me 10 points on my 'pressure. I don't remember his group doing the kata, which I had drilled and drilled with William, or reciting any of the home rules, which I had drilled, but we were less strong on. I was so glad when the test was over and the belt ceremony started.

Here are the pictures I got:They were instructed to remove their white belt, then...

throw it on the ground with a loud KIAI! I laughed at how high William jumped.
The new belt is then tied on, the old belt put across their shoulders, and they're presented to the group. There's lots of bowing and YES MA'AM/SIR throughout, as well. All in all, it was very, very cool. They only do it every 5 weeks, so I am hopeful that I won't have to go to the same level of freak-out next time. Seriously don't think I could take it.

Katie starts her lessons on Monday. Pray for me.


Susan said...

I meant to call and wish him luck, but sounds like you needed it more. I'm so glad all went well. Tell him we're proud of him and can't wait for him to show off what he knows. (unless that's against the house rules.) Love you guys.

Mama Nirvana said...

Wow! They really teach those kids to be tough! It's really late, so my mind is a little bumbly, but I am so happy you both survived it. It's amazing how often I use breathing exercises to get through things.