Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Seeing Red

Whew, what a busy month July turned out to be!

I tested for my half-belt (or "stripe") at the end of May, the day after officially having all restrictions removed by my surgeon. It felt like the toughest test I'd done, but I was very proud of my performance and felt stronger than ever.

Throughout June and into July I suffered a string of weird minor injuries, all outside of Karate class.

I strained both quads sprinting way too hard during a routine Saturday morning run, was knocked out of commission for a week with a nasty virus, and two weeks ago I twisted my left ankle something fierce stepping into a pothole on a local walking path that was overgrown with grass.

Waking up with stiff joints and pain has become de rigeur in my morning routine until I've loosened up with a hot shower. I'm OK with it, though, since it's a predictable thing.

What I didn't predict was testing for Red belt just shy of 2 months after my last belt exam!

It went well, but with all my down time I was less conditioned than I cared to be. This was most noticeable when doing slow-count kicks. Remember those??? Well, for Red belt and above, you no longer do them holding a barre or against a wall to steady yourself.

You're in the middle of the room.

And you darn well feel it when the test is done!

I talked to my instructor about having such a short interval between belts after the test. The curriculum requires a progressively higher number of classes between belts as you move up through the ranks, but he feels I'm ready for advanced belt classes based on my progress since returning from injury. Wow, how cool is that?!?

Tomorrow night's class is canceled. My school's head examiner for black belts is personally conducting a special class for advanced belts, which is predicted to be well over an hour long--possibly closer to two hours. It's intended as a preview of black belt screenings, and I'm both nervous and excited to take part in it.

When I went to watch the Family That Fights Together during their final screening back in November, the Examiner spotted me coming into the lobby and took time out--right in the middle of the screening--to offer his condolences, emphasizing that "there is life after this."

You see, he's a 5th Degree black belt with reconstructed ACL's in both knees.

We're an immense distance apart in rank, but wear the same scars marking our initiation into a regrettably elite club.

I look forward to working out with him if for no other reason than to thank him for his encouragement and his faith in me.

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