Some Personal Thoughts
There are dozens, if not hundreds of good valid reasons for learning karate. If you browse through the many pages of my web site you'll discover why it can be good for you.
Many students, after they achieve 1st Kyu, seem to hit a ceiling and feel that they can't go any further, that the illusive 1st Dan/Degree (Shodan) Black Belt level is too hard.
For some students, this is true because the truth is they don't really want to take the risk of going for the exam as they know they will fail and the thought of failing in front of all their friends and peers is too embarrassing. Behind this truth is what is really holding them back and that is lack of commitment, I prefer to use the word laziness. This is NOT a personal dig at anyone, but if my suggestion provokes you enough to take some positive action and do something about it and just "go for it!", then both of our wishes will be fulfilled.
One of the ideas or precepts of karate is about "character" building, the other about "spirit of perseverance & endeavour". If you fail here, you will fail throughout all the other aspects of your life.
There will always be reasons and excuses not to take the grading, you know them and I've heard them all before. The problem is not about the type and style of instruction it's about wanting to achieve the goal that you set two years earlier. I can give you all the material and incentive you need but you must have to want to reach that final step yourself.
There is a ray of hope though and it's quite simple, if you follow the next few steps and make a plan, you WILL pass your Black Belt grading;-
Get your diary/calendar out now and look at the dates of Black Belt gradings coming up and set a reasonable date for when you will take that exam. Please ask me if you are in doubt whether the time frame you've set in mind are achievable. Take note of your fitness level and age and the time of year that your exam is going to take place. If, like me, your advancing in years and you find that you're a little slow and stiff in the colder months, set a date for the test in the warmer months. If you don't like perspiring too much, set a date for grading in December.
Attend ALL of the Kyu & Dan grading lessons under the Chief Instructor Sensei Cole that you can.
In the months leading up to the test, train at as many of my lessons as you can, the recommended minimum is twice a week!
Train under other senior SSKA instructors to get some variety in your regime.
Prepare for the day in question by making a list of what you'll have to do and take, e.g. plenty of food and drink (or money) for the long day. A clean spare Gi to change into after the main lesson. Don't forget the simple things like a towel and washing kit (there's nothing that can make you feel more nervous than being uncomfortable during the grading. Watch your diet or food intake in the lead up to and on the day of the test.
During the grading, concentrate more on being relaxed and your breathing rather that the karate (all of which your subconscious knows anyway).
Finally - when you go in to the grading, imagine that this is just an ordinary lesson and that you are already wearing a black belt, then act the way you think a black belt ought to.
Planning and preparation are everything, follow the simple steps above and you WILL pass with flying colours. You got to 1st Kyu didn't you? I still hold the firm belief that the 1st Kyu test is harder than 1st Dan test.
Grand Master Gichin Funakoshi Sensei once said;-
"You may train for a long, long time, but if you merely move your hands and feet and jump up and down down like a puppet, learning karate is not very different from learning to dance. You will have never reached the heart of the matter; you will have failed to grasp the quintessence of karate-do..........Spirit first, Technique second." (more quotes for contemplation & encouragement?)
i.e. you MUST put your heart, soul & feeling into your training, not just practice by rote, practise and train with spirit!
On a very personal level and to give you more hope and encouragement: "My abilities and skills are quite average and nothing special, if I can do it, SO CAN YOU!!"
Rob Redmond from 24 Fighting Chickens aka ShotokanPlanet.com says......
Good luck, not that you need it, I know you'll pass well!
Updated: Friday, 10 September 2010