Apr 8, 2010

Black Belt Test - PASSED!

Nearly four years of hard work. Three months of study, preparation, and practice. More study. More practice. It all came to a head on what would be the most challenging day of my life.

April 3, 2010 – my black belt test.

It was brutally hard. I thought I had mentally prepared myself for just how hard it would be. I was wrong. The workout was tougher than anything I’d ever done before. Once the instructors had pushed us to and beyond our limits, we then had to concentrate and execute our katas (forms) and defense techniques. Ninety self-defense techniques, six open-hand katas, and four weapon katas.

Think about that for a moment. Think of the hardest test you’ve ever had to take, either in school or professionally. Now think about having to do that after having run a marathon. My body was screaming for recovery, for a time-out (not happening). I couldn’t focus because I was so tired, so sweaty, so thirsty. I made mistakes simply because it was so hard to focus.

After the exhausting workout and the tension filled practical test, the real fun begins. Three minutes of full contact sparring with the instructors and their assisting black belts. Three minutes straight - no stops - with a new instructor swapping in every 30 seconds. Remember all that exhaustion from earlier? Yeah it’s still there.

Before the testing, I originally thought to myself “Once we get to sparring, it’s almost over. Just three more minutes and you’re home, Ant.” A silver lining of sorts. Yeah…not so much.

When it was my time to spar, the silver lining mentality went out the window. My only thoughts were “Just survive.” I thought I could keep track of how many I had sparred with and how many to go. Yeah…no again. It was all a blur. I got a good beat down. I may have had a good shot or two in there, but for the most part I got pounded. I got one decent (though weak) shot to the head on one of the instructors. Part of me cheered inside. The other parts went “What the heck did you do that for!?!? Now he’s gonna tear us up!”

I didn’t give up though. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. My helmet came off. Keep going. Goggles came down…tore ‘em off. It ended in much the same way it went: with me defensively on my back just trying to survive. When time was called I was still tensed waiting for the next opponent. It took a few seconds to realize no more were coming.

As I stood up, it still didn’t click. It wasn’t until one of the instructors (the same one I got that headshot on) said something that that it made it settle in. "Welcome to the black belt club."  It was done.

I've passed my black belt test. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It had to be. Otherwise it wouldn’t mean as much. I truly feel different now. I have a renewed sense of confidence. I have a tremendous feeling of pride. There are few things in my life that I’d consider as much as an achievement as this. So if you notice a bit of a swagger in my step or my chin a bit higher, understand that I’ve earned it. And it’s something that will stay with me forever. It’s something that no one can take away. And I’m really looking forward to my boys (and hopefully the girl some day) walking this same path and feeling that same pain, pride, and accomplishment.

Now if I could just get the soreness out of my legs, I’d be all set. Five days later and I’m still feeling it. Then again, it is another proud reminder of it all. Advil? Nah, I’m good. Let me relish this for a just bit longer.


  1. Grats Jarr!!! That's a lot of long, hard work to get there. Definitely something to be proud of.

  2. That's fantastic Jarr. Congratulations! Sticking with something like that and achieving that goal is definitely something to be proud of!