Sunday, July 7, 2013

T Minus a Few Days and Counting

On the rare occasions when someone learns that I am a 4th degree Black Belt, I see that look on their face. It’s what I call the, “they give honorary Black Belts?” look. My physique does not convey what you’d call the prototypical martial arts persona. It’s more of a, “That’s Uncle Joe, he’s a moving kinda slow” look. You get points if you know the Petticoat Junction reference.

It’s pretty bad when you equate yourself to a second banana on a television series so lousy, they won’t play it on Nick at Night. Still, no one has ever confused me with Chuck Norris, or Mrs. Norris, or even Argus Filch (make that leap!).

I earned my Fourth Degree Black Belt five years ago, achieving a goal to reach Master by the time I was fifty. You see, I started Karate late in life, and wanted to reach 4th degree while I was still healthy enough to do it.

At that point I figured I was done; I had no intention of reaching any higher rank, and at the same time had no intention of quitting. I take each day as it comes, and manage to teach a good hard class twice a week. I’ve been told that I could not endure my own classes. Did I mention I don’t fit the karate profile?

As it turns out, five years have passed and my Master has informed me that I am to test for my 5th Degree Black Belt next Sunday - after an all-day prep class on Saturday. Assuming I survive the prep class, Sunday will be review and demonstration of skills, physical stamina, and knowledge.

It should be noted that surviving the prep class is no sure thing. During the prep class for 4th Degree, there were seventeen of us in the group, at one time or another every single person dropped to the floor from exhaustion. This is no aerobics class with little miss skinny saying, “you can do it sweetie!” Uncle Joe would not survive.

This is eight to nine hours of pushing, pushing, pushing. Lower your stance, fatigue the muscles. More snap in your blocks, make your kicks higher and stronger, don’t show weakness. Oh yes, when you’re all done, fight against freeking Master Black Belts!

It is hard, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I know I’ll never look the part; I’ll never be confused with Bruce, or Jackie, or Chuck, (maybe Filch), and that’s ok. I’m looking forward to the test with a lot of enthusiasm, a little trepidation, and maybe a double shot of preventative Advil.

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