When I think about my martial arts journey, there are two periods in my training that stand out. The time I spent at brown belt and the year of training prior to my teaching certification. These were times of intense preparation, training and study. As a brown belt, I had amazing training partners. There were four of us testing for Shodan in 1996…three men and one woman. We were from the same dojo and spent a lot of time helping each other.
Let me set the stage….
When I was a brown belt, I was in my twenties and worked full time. It was a few years before my daughter was born. My husband was a black belt and we spent most…ok…all of our free time at the dojo or with dojo friends. It was during this time that my husband decided, with proper permission, to start his own dojo. Most of my time was spent at the Honbu preparing for testing while my husband spent most of his time renovating our house/dojo.
My brown belt training partner and I practiced an extra three hours per week in addition to regular classes. We worked on bunkai, combinations, take downs, kata and kobudo. We worked out before and after each class. We practiced bunkai in my living room after some minor furniture rearranging. I seem to recall an impromptu mini-session or two in the parking lot of a local pizzeria. A little over thirteen years has passed, my time as a brown belt still stands out in my mind as an exciting time.
Let us fast forward to present day….
Whenever there are brown belt students in the dojo, I am truly excited for them. There is much preparation, hours of training and sometimes a touch of nervousness. Most brown belt students know the material they need for Shodan. Since there is no pressure to learn a new kata or weapon pattern, the focus is on taking their knowledge deeper. It is at this time that many brown belt students realize that they have only scratched the surface of available information. They recognize that Shodan is a beginning.
To all the brown belt students preparing for Shodan testing…enjoy this time in your martial arts journey.