Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Should I Be Working On?

When I started learning karate I was given a booklet which outlined all the belt rank testing requirements. Each level was outlined in detail and included vocabulary, basics, kicks, waza, kata, kobudo, sparring and self-defense. I liked having a tangible list. I would often refer to the outline to see what I should be working on and what was next. Some of my classmates would highlight their list after they learned a technique, kata or weapon.

In some ways, things were easier as a kyu rank. You knew exactly what was expected and when the material was required. After black belt, students discover there is more time and less pressure. It will be years…not months…between testing.

When new black belt students in our dojo ask…“What should I be working on?”… I suggest the following:

Continue learning the required material.
Refine your basics and movement.
If you have the opportunity to attend seminars…Go!
If you find a martial arts book that interests you…Read it!
Explore bunkai.
Assist in class.

Recently, the black belt group in the dojo has worked on kata, kobudo, self-defense, knife throwing, tegumi drills, individual kata and two-person weapon forms. On the schedule...a night to video our open hand and weapon kata and a street clothes self-defense class.

If you get a chance, stop by and wish Bob, author of Middle Aged Martial Artist, a speedy recovery.  He was the first blog I found when I was researching ACL reconstruction.  Bob tore his left ACL in 2007 during the final minutes of his black belt test.  He posted last week that he injured his knee.  The MRI confirmed he tore his right ACL.


Journeyman said...

It is simpler in many ways not to have the guess work of what to work on next. Your scheduled events seem like an interesting mix. Should be fun.

Of course, most of the advice you give a beginner likely still applies. Your advice to a newly minted black belt is great. Building on, and refining what you know is what eventually leads to mastery.

I hope you update after the scheduled black belt activities.

Michele said...

Thank you for commenting!

I think new black belts are often overwhelmed when they realize how much more there is to learn "after" black belt. As a kyu rank, there are focused on the list. It takes a while for them to understand the list is only the beginning.

Bob M said...

Michele, thanks for the kind mention of my injury.

I enjoyed reading your post, and the comment, today because I took a private lesson with my school's Joshu yesterday, and felt chagrined at how many tweaks he was suggesting for my form. But of course, if it was easy to learn, it wouldn't be as interesting.

SenseiMattKlein said...

I like best your statement among the list, "help your sensei". He or she always needs help. So few ever ask if they help.

The Barefoot Lawyer said...

We should always be working on our character.


Lori (Vancouver/ Richmond BC Jiu-jitsu/Martial Arts Instructor) said...

That's good list of things to focus on for a black belt in any style of martial art. The most important thing is to keep enjoying the practice. If you enjoy it, you keep up with your training and involvement. The rest can only happen if that happens.

Michele said...

Thank you for visiting and commenting!