Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The T Word

During the course of my karate training, the T word is not usually discussed. It was something that happened or something that you were told. I have mixed feelings about the T word. You see, I remember anxiously waiting for the word as a kyu rank. The dates were posted on the dojo calender so everyone was aware of the possibility but it was not a topic of conversation. As a young kyu rank, I may have hoped but I never expected.

I earned a black belt and the T word took on a different meaning. As a black belt student, the T word is my reminder of how much there is to learn in comparison to what little I actually know.

I became an instructor and the T word changed completely. The focus of class and training time shifts to preparing others. In our dojo, the head instructor makes the final decision. As a class instructor, my role is to recommend.

There have been brief times in our dojo that I held the responsibility for the T word. My husband's injuries and surgeries sometimes prevented him from being in the dojo. I have witnessed the range of student reactions from happy and proud to disappointed and angry.

I am sure you know the word I am referring to....TESTING.

Even now...I must admit...I am slightly uncomfortable writing about it.

It is meant to be between the instructor and the student.


SueC said...

Hi Michele, I know what you mean. Sensei suddenly gives you a date for the 'T' and you think, 'Oh no, now it's for real!'. I have just been given dates for testing by both my senseis (from different dojos). One's on 5th December and the others on the 6th December - great weekend coming up!

Mauricio said...

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Felicia said...

Hi, Michele,

That word is one that instantly strikes fear in the heart of any student of the arts for sure. Like Sue said, having a bonafide date you can circle on a calendar makes it oh so real and not just a "someday" sort of thing. I remember the anxiety I had around my shodan date; our spring gradings are always the first Thursday in May, but for some reason, they kept moving the date around a few months out. Drove me nearly insane - so much so that I just wanted it to hurry up and get here already, which bothered me because I truly, truly wanted to enjoy the journey and not the destination, y'know?

And all the best to you the first weekend in December, Sue :-)

SueC said...

Thanks Felicia!

Michele said...

Hi Sue...That is quite a busy weekend! I wish you the best.

Mauricio: Thank you for visiting my blog. I will be sure to visit your site.

Felicia: Thank you for your insight. We have a few students in a similar situation. The date itself has become more stressful than the preparation for the test. Black belt testing happens once a year. The students have their own business and work weekends. I want them to enjoy the process but it hard because the date and location has not been decided.

Mr. White Tiger said...

I know what you mean my friend...I once had an instructor who's testing method was simple: she simply didn't tell you when you were testing. That was her way of eliminating the anxiety and anticipation build-up, and you're always at your best since you never really know if you're being tested.