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Black Belt - So what?

On Friday I traveled down to a friend's place in Oshawa, Ontario. We ate. I excitedly ran about giving her and her daughter gifts. Or tried to. New socks plus excitement led to me falling down some stairs. It wasn't something I needed. At least her daughter loved the gift. After that we climbed into the hot tub for some girl time and relaxation as Saturday was a big day for us.

Early Saturday morning we left for Etobicoke. We arrived at the Olympium and lugged all our gear inside. The next step was finding out where we were going, which was much easier to find than the last time we traveled to a seminar together.

The seminar was fantastic! I received some key tips that I think will help fix my grip once and for all. Hopefully I remember them. I wrote the most important ones down already, but I'm remembering some right now that I should scribble down.

After the seminar, we hurriedly ate lunch and returned to the room for grading. During the seminar, I became quite sore, especially in the part of the buttock that met the step abruptly the day before. Today, it hurts even more.

So grading. We lined up when told and stood at attention with swords sheathed as we waited to step onto the grading floor. I did reiho (etiquette) without leaving anything out. In practice earlier this month, I forgot to bow to Shinzen or the judges. That would've been terrible at grading and possibly fail worthy. I remembered Galligan Sensei's advice to take three breaths between each kata to perform them at a proper speed. I tried to incorporate some of the suggestions into my grading embu. I was tired and sore. Battle-weary one might say.

I passed. My rank is now Shodan (1st Dan), which means I'm a black belt. So why the title of this blog post? Getting a black belt is cool, for sure, but all it means is that I have gotten the fundamentals down. It's like a foundation. There's a whole building left, plumbing, electrical, framing, a roof, siding, shingles, landscaping, etcetera left to install. I'm just getting started.

Nearly all my friends passed too. After dinner the ladies and I went back to the hot tub and watched a movie, which I briefly nodded off during. What movie? Pacific Rim. There were giant aliens and giant robots, and eventually swords. It was epic.

The drive home today felt long in my semi-broken state, but it's the good kind of broken.

Ittekimasu,
Roy Iaidoka

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