December 11, 2016 by Rieshy

My face hurt Saturday afternoon after the first belt testing at the new school.

Testing days at the dojo.  Everyone is intense.  Parents are zeroed in, the children are both nervous and ultra focused, staff is hyper.  It makes for an energized event.  With new belts as icing.

New belts that stick out funny when they're tied.  Belts that flash an unfamiliar color in the corner of your vision.

One of the most memorable testings that I ever experienced, not as part of staff but as a student, was a testing I went through while wearing a knee high ortho boot to protect a shiny swollen grade 2 calf-muscle tear.  I had to do katas in a chair in unison with my class.  I had to kick against "attackers" coming from multiple directions from a chair.  I did Thai combos while balancing one legged and faked the Thai kicks with thrown elbows.  At first I felt awkward and stupid and not a little embarrassed at the extra attention putting a chair on the mats required.  I sweated buckets and it was painful and clumsy and then the energy of the class and the discipline of the moves made me forget being embarrassed and stupid.

It's not the belts that make testing exciting- the belts are the icing.  It's not the "showing off" to an audience that makes it exciting.  At least not for me.   It's the energy bouncing around the room, the way all the students try to move as one,  It's the community of growth and the oneness of focus that I love.  I hate performing.  But I do want to shine- and when everyone around you wants to shine and snap and kiai crisply too... it's a lifting, soaring feeling.

I didn't have to test that time while wearing a boot; I don't even remember the rank I was testing for.  I got to test because I have awesome Sensei and they didn't want me to have to miss out.

Maybe I'm strange and testing is just a nerve-wracking hoop to jump through for everyone else... but I don't think so. I saw a lot of people on Saturday whose faces probably ended up aching too.

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