Brown Belt - 3rd Kyu onwards....

By this stage you'll have been learning & practicing karate for about two years & you will have gained a lot of skills, confidence & knowledge. According to the syllabus timetable, if all goes well you will be taking your first Black Belt grading in only one years time.
So what happens next? You need to attend four black & brown belt courses, which occur four times a year, alternatively held at the Bracknell Leisure Centre & at the Dorcan Recreation Centre in Swindon.
However, please be aware that it is around about this time that many students enthusiasm & interest starts to wane & fade away. You're at a level now where you are practicing similar & often boring & repetitive kihon moves during each lesson. You may may believe in your heart that you know all of the kata necessary (a minimum of eight) to take your Shodan exam. You may even have enough skills to scrape through a short bout of kumite with another student of a similar grade.
During the next year you'll be covering the same ground over & over again. You will be honing your techniques, internalising your knowledge of your kata & unconsciously making all of your actions & reactions automatic. Many students think that because they "know it all" now they can "get away" with just training once a week & skipping the odd lesson because they "just don't feel up to it today".
OK here's the thing. If you go to Japan and study karate full time, 5 or 6 days a week for one whole year, you may be able to obtain Shodan (1st degree black belt). That works out to about 1450 hours training. In this country, if you religiously train twice a week for three years & accounting for holidays etc, you would only manage to squeeze in about 300 hours. That's only about one fifth of the equivalent training you would have received in Japan. Using that logic it ought to take you 15 years to get to black belt!!
It's not until you pass your black belt exam that you finally come to realise what all the effort & fuss was about, at this point you will understand why it was so hard to obtain & will truly appreciate the significance of it.
Again, in Japan, the rank of Shodan is viewed as a beginners grade. You have only just started out on the true path of karate & you still have a lot to learn. It'll take you at least another two years to reach Nidan (2nd Dan). If you stop or give up at Shodan, you really have missed the whole point of learning karate & not fully understood the benefits & value it can add to your life.
If you have worked hard & reached 2nd or 1st kyu then you are almost there - you are so close to pushing through that invisible barrier of black belt. Don't throw it all away & give up now. You've made a large investment of time & money so far - just a little more patience, grit & determination & you will pass, once you do, you will never look back & always be glad that you pushed on that extra mile.
Please click here for a few training tips to help you through this last stage.
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Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2011