When I first heard the phrase 'grading' I thought of all the exams, assessments, interviews and other formal events I've had to attend over the years that have all been filled with anxiety and some level of stress. So, as we all prepared for the upcoming grading I became increasingly convinced that I would be a nervous wreck come the actual day and that I even forget how to pronounce 'Oss', how to punch/kick/block and where to turn in the Kata!
I read this piece of advice 'You will not be asked to come to a grading if Sensei does not think you capable of passing' on a website somewhere and it gave me a significant amount of confidence. Though did not stop the nagging doubt that I was feeling.
As the days slowly unwound to the grading day I spent more and more time thinking out the moves to the first Kata, carefully practicing my stances and trying to remember it all in Japanese. In short I worked really really hard to confuse myself and raise the level of tension I was feeling.
The day of the grading I had quite enough to occupy myself with, it was the second race in the Formula 1 season which started at 6:00am, then I had to contend with my usual cycle training (30 miles on this occasion) I got home at Lunchtime and watched the rest of the very boring Formula 1 race with a cup of coffee.
It was then time to leave!
It wasn't until I got to the Leisure Centre and changed into my Gi that the nerves really started to kick in. Standing around making small talk with others in my position helped a lot and reassuring each other that we were perfectly capable of achieving our respective belts.
Then things got serious. We all lined up and greeted the Senseis with a formal bow. Then we were split up into grade order and went through the usual warm ups before training. I was so engrossed in this that I didn't notice my belt coming loose!
We then sat and listened as Sensei Kidby gave out awards to the best student of each class. We were then treated to a highly amusing demonstration of Karate by the black belts, one of whom took great pleasure in ensuring each opponent was floored!
We split up again and while Sensei talked us through what was expected of us in the grading and watched us practice each move, my belt finally parted company with my Gi and ended up flying across the room landing next to a very bemused looking parent!
Then it was time for the grading. The skies darkened and clouds formed overhead, lightning flashed and thunder roared as we were told to line up and take position!
At a table two well dressed gentlemen asked us to do each move, slowly and in English they clearly talked us through each technique and what was expected. Next, the Kata.
Everything went smoothly, I followed the instruction perfectly and managed to get through the first stage completely fine - I'd achieved a Blue belt!