Well it’s been just over 2 weeks since the Black Belt Prep Cycle started, and I figured it’s time to gather my thoughts about the process so far and give an update on my journey to anyone interested who’s still reading 🙂
The Black Belt Prep Cycle is a 7 week intensive program designed to stretch the candidates to their physical and mental limits, culminating in the Black Belt Grading Test weekend, on the 18-19 June. And intensive it has been.
I’ve been doing 4 classes a week, which are generally much harder than normal classes – with a much greater fitness component and much higher expectations on the candidates. I’ve also been doing lots of training at home – mainly fitness training with more situps, more pushups, more squat kicks and skipping too.
For the first week, my body was in a constant state of ache. I was getting some spasms in my lower back, my quads were constantly sore, but luckily both were short-lived and funnily enough more training seemed to help 🙂 Also, the skins I bought have really helped – they’ve been worth every cent! They seem to really aid in faster recover, as well as not getting as cramped in the first place.
Now, at the end of the second week, my body is holding up pretty well – I’m feeling fit and healthy and looking forward to the rest of the journey. I’ve even lost 1 or 2 kilos. No injuries so far, but my family is sick at the moment and now I’ve got a persistent cough and a niggling cold. I just hope it’s also short-lived. There’d be nothing worse than coming down with a bad cold or a flu during Prep Cycle.
I’m starting to get more of a picture of what the Black Belt Grading weekend has in store. And it’s not going to be pretty! Especially the sparring. The sparring starts at about 1am on the Saturday morning and goes for about 2 hours – when you’re already tired and exhausted, when you’ve already done the 5km run, the pushups/situps/squats, after 2 hours of basics, after 2 hours of kata and more. They design it so it takes place when you’re already mentally and physically exhausted. They want you at your absolute lowest, and then they throw black belt after black belt at you, and I can tell you it won’t be anything like point-sparring or even continuous sparring. They WILL be trying to break you. They push everyone to their physical and mental limits until they are a crumpled, crying mess on the floor (literally!!), and then they expect you to get back up again and keep going on for more. They look for the budo spirit – the will and the power to get back up and keep fighting.
It won’t matter how good at sparring you are, or how fit you are – they’ll keep throwing people at you until you’ve reached YOUR limits.. and beyond. It’s the journey out the other side that they’re looking for.
It sounds and feels a little daunting I can tell you. We have the sparring pre-test next Wednesday, which will be a cut-down version of what we can expect on Black Belt Grading weekend. After each pre-test, the Black Belts vote on the candidates and decide who can continue the journey.
I guess that’s enough for this update. I’ll give another update probably in another 2 weeks time.
Thanks for reading.