Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Spectacular Spectacular!!!

I am now a 2nd degree Black Belt!!! Woo Hoo!!!
Saturday morning, the 2nd degree team met at the dojo for some last minute renshu (practice). We ran through the All Star Graduate routine and the NTC routine. We finished with the bo routine. We were all in good spirits and a bit nervous.

I came home and relaxed for a bit. I packed some food for the practice since we had to be there at 2pm and the performance doesn't start till 6:30. I got ready and put on my new 2nd degree gi pants (sweet!) and karate t-shirt. Then I put on my 1st degreee black belt for the last time!
Around 1pm, it was time to leave the house. RJ was with the neighor. He'd come to the spectacular with them. So that was one child taken care of. Next I dropped the girlie off at her friend's house. I reminded her what time she had to be dropped off (6pm), that I would be giving her the camera before the show, and how important this event was to me. She appeared to understand what I had said (this will become important later).
Now, with both kids taken care of, it was time to drop off tickets at my mom's house. As I was about 2 minutes away from her house, I realized I had left my gi top on my desk. Ugh!!!! I had to turn around and go back home to get it. Figures......

Having to go back home meant I wouldn't have time to drop off the tickets. I called my mom but kept getting a fax buzzing sound. So I called the girlie and tasked her with letting my mom know I'd meet her out front right before the show to give her the tickets. I hurried to Parker Playhouse and got there right on time, a bit frazzled, but on time!

I brought all my stuff inside and immediately we started with the run throughs. I think we did 3 or 4 complete run throughs and I kept improving with each one. We had a last minute "pep talk" from Kyoshi and Ma'am then we went to get our team t-shirts. Normally we get them the week before so that we can wear them at the practice. And, on the backs of the shirts everyones name is printed. But not this time. It was a "generic" shirt; very disappointing.
But, no time to dwell on anything "negative". I hung out with all the ladies and the time went by quickly, but not as quickly as it had when I tested for my 1st degree. Experience definitely has its plusses! There was a dressing room for the adult ladies and we all squeezed in and did our pre-performance primping. Alex had brought the glitter spray and we all got "sparkled".

We ate a bit, chatted and put on our gi tops. And then they announced the front doors were opening. It was 6pm. So I went to the front doors to look for my family. I waited. I waited some more. And kept waiting. Finally, RJ showed up with the neighbors. And then my mom & stepdad Mel showed up. I gave them the tickets. But the girlie still hadn't showed up. So I called her and asked where she was. She said she was just leaving the movies.

Needless to say I was upset, and disappointed. But not surprised; very typical for a 13 year old girl. But again, I had to get rid of any negative thoughts. I needed to be calm and relaxed to perform. So I gave the camera to RJ and I went backstage. Within minutes, they gave the 5 minute warning and we all quickly gathered backstage.

The show started on time. After the singing of the National Anthem, the XMA teams opened with a glow show. They had the black lights on and put flourescent strips on the weapons so it looked really cool when they spinned the bos, chucks and kamas. After the glow show they did the graduate intros. It started with all the juniors. Next was the adult 1st degrees. And then finally, the 2nd and 3rd degrees!!

There was 6 2nd degrees "All Stars"; 3 juniors (Niki, Brock and Johnny) and 3 adults (me, Melanie, Lori). And there was one 3rd degree "Top Gun", Morgan. We each had our name announced, then we did a short hand/kick blip into a running kick, circle set and bow. Then we went to our positions for a modified XMA Form 3. I was slow on the 1st move (DOH!!!!) but then made up for it on the rest of the kata! And in a flash, it was over.
The next 7 or so routines were demonstrations of XMA, muay thai, self-defense, kenpo, etc. And then it was time for the All Star/Top Gun American Bo form routine. We walked out to the music of Guns N' Roses, Welcome to the Jungle. It was really cool!! Towards the end of the routine, Master Chris stepped in and did a really AWESOME solo performance, and then we all finished the form.

We had our last performance 3 routines later. It was the Team NTC routine. NTC is National Training Center which is the Ft. Lauderdale dojo (there are 5 dojos here in Florida and 7 in New York). It was all the 1st and 2nd degrees, the 3rd degree and the instructors. It started with cross-through kicking by the instructors. Then Morgan did his creative kumite. The 2nd degrees went after Morgan.

The NTC 2nd degrees are me, Mel, Niki and Brock. We started with all 4 of us doing the beginning of short 3 kata and then some blocks and kicks. Then Niki and Brock did some moves together then each did their own personal creative "blips". They moved to the side and Mel and I did some blocks and kicks together. Next it was time for my creative "blip". I started with some kenpo hand moves, front kick, jump front kick, and a kartwheel into kenpo 5-sword move, finishing with a left round kick, spinning right hook. Mel did her personal blip, ending in the middle of the stage. Niki, Brock and I were on the side of the stage and did forward rolls to "line up" with Mel. The 4 of us finished in a straight line and did staggered blocks into a left crescent kick. It ROCKED!!!

And that was it for our performances. There were a few more demonstration routines, MMA, ladies self-defense, etc. And then it was time for the presentation of the belts. We lined up and our names were called. We walked out on stage and Kyoshi presented us with our new belt. When everyone had gotten their belts and was seated on stage, we took off the old belt and wiped sweat from our brow onto the old belt. I've had my 1st degree belt for 4 years; it's a bit faded, but it's soft and flexible. I've become somewhat attached to it! But I'll quickly get over that!!!

We were next instructed to take the new belt and wipe sweat from our brow onto the new belt. And then the moment we all had worked so hard for; time to put on the new belt. The new belt was very stiff and a nice dark black color! The new belt, like my old one has my name printed on one end. The only difference is on the "other end" of the belt, there is now 2 red stripes to indicate 2nd degree (the 1st degree belt didn't have any stripes).

After we all got our belts it was time for Kyoshi get his new belt. Several Grand Masters were there to award Kyoshi his 8th degree. They "charged" his belt with spirit (pretty cool) and gave him his belt and certificate.
We finished the Black Belt Spectacular by bowing out with our creed:

As a dedicated student of the Martial Arts, I will live by the principles of Black Belt...Modesty, Courtesy, Integrity, Self-Control, Perseverence, and Indominable Spirit. What's our goal? Black Belt Excellence!

After the show everyonec went up front to meet their families. There were so many people and tons of engery. Everyone was congratulating and hugging all the candidates. I saw Ryan first, then my Mom and Mel and finally the girlie and her friend.

And now I get to enjoy the moment!!! My black belt, embroidered with my name and 2 red stripes is as meaningful as an Academy Award or a Pulitzer Prize. And although enjoying the moment is nice, it was truly the journey to 2nd degree that is to be remembered. It was a long journey, it was a memorable journey, and it has been a journey full of accomplishments.
When I set my goal for 2nd degree, I knew there would be challenges I had to overcome. The biggest challenge would be my run time. I have always enjoyed running and I even placed in a number of races many years ago. But during my 1st degree black belt cycle, I had a hard time making my run times of 2 miles in 16 minutes. My love for running turned into dread and avoidance. And I knew the only way I would be able to make my run times was to quit smoking. Smoking had been part of my life for 25 years. My younger sister and a certain Rock N' Roll marathon in San Diego were added motivators to quit.
And I did it. On February 2nd, I quit smoking and I haven't had one since that day. It's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it. Karate was the "end" goal, running was the means to get me there and quitting smoking was the catalyst to get everything going!
And boy did it get going. I finished that San Diego marathon. And then I ran the most amazing marathon ever, the New York City Marathon. What an experience!!! I made a lot of new friends; people who enjoy challenging themselves and who appreciate the dedication it takes. I've logged 883 miles this year, run through 3 pairs of shoes, dealt with heel spurs or bursitis in my heels, read every issue of Runner's World and spent more hours on my training log than is "healthy".
And, I'd do it all over in a heartbeat!!!
Thanks for traveling with me during my journey.......

1 comment:

  1. I read every word of this and got chills almost the whole time. You are so awesome it is beyond words. I love how you had to wipe the sweat off your brow onto the old belt and the new belt, and how the charged the master's belt with spirit. I love how you used bold letters to state the creed that I used to say after every single practice. I would give anything to see you to this:

    "kartwheel into kenpo 5-sword move, finishing with a left round kick, spinning right hook."

    I was trying to envision it and just got up and did the finishing with a left round kick, spinning right hook part (it hurt since I just got back from a race!).

    Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, Indomitable Spirit and all-around awesomeness and looks/ are the real deal. CONGRATULATIONS, DANI!