I Will Wear This With Pride

And my belt, too. Julian and I had an epic sparring session during Friday's final portion of the test. Gotta love that glove burn to go with my bruises.

Friday's test was a marathon. Equal parts grueling and exhilarating, there were tears, cheers, and about a million high-fives when it was over.

I have so much love for the SMA Black Belt class of 2016. The teens and juniors have their entire lives ahead of them to keep evolving their skill, and they are already so talented! I can't wait to see what they set their minds to, both inside and outside of the dojo.

Last Official Training

We worked on so many katas today, and I learned one I didn't previously know: Jutte. We split into smaller groups and someone would teach the rest of the group the kata they wanted to learn. Sensei Ethan walked us through it, and in about 20 minutes, we had the basic elements of the kata down well enough to run through it for the group.

However, when we all regrouped and ran through katas at the end of training, I got totally discombobulated on the black puzzle mat. Every time I would step forward or to the side, it felt like the floor was sliding out from under me as the mats slipped apart. It was like doing kata on a lake you thought was frozen solid, but it isn't! It was crazy, but we all pushed through it somehow.

I worry about running through every kata that I have tried to learn. I know my intent is to perform it correctly, but in the moment it can be so difficult to remember what to do next. I am really looking forward to having more time to really refine the kata I learned over the last several months. Including Empi, which I finally learned this month! Learned, yes, but still need lots and lots of time to train it.

Empi is a kata that always intimidated me because of the super-quick series of movements toward the middle of the kata. Once I started to learn it, what I realized is that the kata itself actually makes a lot of logical sense as you learn it, and it's fairly easy to "feel" what comes next. It's just that one section that seems impossible because it's performed so quickly. I can't say the same for the Kankus, which continue to give me trouble.

Watch this sensational performance of Empi. If you haven't seen it before, you should quickly understand why its translation is "Flying Swallow."

21st WKF World Karate Championships France 2012 - Paris Bercy, 21-25 November. Kata Enpi by Italy male team (Lucio Maurino, Luca Valdesi, Vincenzo Figuccio). They placed 2nd. © 2012 Virtual Sensei