I had been preparing for this for a while, but after our break from training in October (when I believed I was ready to test), I felt nervous. I had been practicing, but I wondered, was I ready? I knew what I had to do, but would I be able to perform? All the doubts that I mentioned in my post 'Use it or Lose it' earlier this month came to mind again.
I was told on Tuesday the week before that I would be tested on the 10th. After that, the nerves really started to set in. Again, I knew that I was physically ready, but mentally ... well, that's where I was really tested.
I few weeks ago I wrote a post about why I decided to train in martial arts. Although I was interested in the physical challenge, what I really wanted out of my training was a development of my mental strength.
I wanted to be able to face my fears.
I wanted to be able to believe in myself enough to know that I could defend myself -- that I would fight for my life.
A few months ago when we practiced our first 'surprise attack', I practically collapsed. I panicked inside so much that I just didn't have the will to fight. I was ready to give in. (My full post about my experience is here.)
Slowly through training and a lot of self-analysis and self-discovery, I found a different type of strength and confidence. (See posts: 'Fighting it Out' & 'Why Fight').
Getting back to the test:
Stilling my mind before the test was SO difficult. I tried to relax my breathing. I tried to focus on the fact that I physically knew what to do - so there was no logical reason for me not to do well. My mind was filled with so many thoughts, my heart was pounding, my stomach was feeling queasy.
However, when I stood up to start, I was ready.
I just went into another zone and I got to it.
Fitness drills, Kajukenbo exercise/form drills - one after another, again and again.
To help me practice my actual self-defense techniques, 3 yellow belts from the men's team came (I am so thankful that they came to help me with my test). They would throw certain punches, and I was supposed to fight back -- and by fight back I don't mean mock punches. I mean really punch them, strike them, kick them, and take them down.
Having that authenticity really helped me because I could really go for it. It was then that I realized how much more of a reflex it was becoming versus movements that I had to stop and think about. That really felt like an accomplishment.
The real test for me started when we did the back grabs ... and then the dreaded surprise attack.
What I told myself was -- focus on what you know, not on what you don't know.
You know how to react.
You know what to do.
You know your body.
You need to stay in control.
It wasn't about an unknown person coming from an unknown area at an unknown time.
Focusing on my strengths is what helped me go through.
The surprise attacks were harsh. The guys did not go easy on me, but I fought back.
It was after that segment of the test that I felt really happy.
At that point I felt like regardless of the belt, I had achieved something great.
Going from not being able to even believe I was worthy enough to defend myself to actually doing it with conviction --- that was priceless to me.
I barely remember anything else.
However, I do know that when my coach told me that he believed I really earned my belt, I felt proud, and I felt like, 'Yes, I have earned this.'
It was really something.
Now -- on to working towards the purple belt!