Monday, April 24, 2017

And Now There Are Four

Over the weekend, our school held our first formal black belt testing for our Presas Arnis program (Juniors and Adults).

Not that we promoted our first black belts.  That was Mr. Chick and myself, in 2013.  But we were not formally tested.  We were tested in secret - that is, we had no idea we were being tested - and surprise promoted, and that was totally cool and fun.

But our new batch of black belts got to actually TEST-test this time around, with a formal board, and everything.  We also had students going for mid-level ranks (blue and green).  Our school is kind of laid back and informal, and this was one of the biggest, most formal events we've put on.  So it's a really big deal for us in a number of ways.

The board, in front, and the people testing, in the back.

The test took about 2-1/2 hours, and included selections of what our folks have to know.  It's impossible to cover everything our guys have to know in a single test, to be honest - well, unless we want it to last days.  I know some schools do that, but for us, it's not necessary.  We earn our ranks on the mats anyway, and this is more like a demo or a graduation ceremony than a "test" anyway.

Just a couple of highlights from the test:
  • Tomas, our adult testing for Lakan, lost one of his sticks in the two-stick defense portion of the test and he just switched to single stick techniques without stopping. That was awesome.
  • Guest board members asked really challenging questions (Thanks Guro +Abel Mann Martinez and Guro +David Beck), put our guys to the test (thanks, GM Art!), and challenged our guys to shred a stick using rompida (and our adult was successful really quickly - our junior guy just isn't strong enough yet but if we'd let him go longer I bet he would have, as his technique was sound - thanks, Guro Kwan!)
Here's a few photos. Our adult green belt, testing for blue, is a private student of our teacher's, and we don't get to see him in the bigger group very often, so it was great to see him working out with the rest of us.

Working double-stick feeding patterns
Going for a disarm
Can't have a blog post without a shot of me beating up children.
Stick Anyo Dalawa (Stick Form Two)

Near the end, Mr. Chick and I had to do presentations about what we've learned since we were promoted to black ourselves, as part of our promotion to 2nd Black.  Mr. Chick talked about how drills are templates and how he understands how they work in training. My presentation was about how my Arnis is not the art with in my art - it IS my art - and how it prepared me for kobudo, and how my kobudo studies have informed my Arnis.  I then used my big pile o'kobudo weapons to demonstrate by using them in various ways with techniques I learned in Arnis.

I used much of what you see here - and no, this isn't even close to the entirety of what I own.  I might have a problem.

The test went really well, everyone was happy, and we have two new Lakan Isa (Black Belt 1st Degree) in our ranks.  Mr. Chick and I were promoted to Lakan/Dayang Dalawa (Black Belt 2nd Degree), and now our school has four black belts (three adult, one junior) under our instructor.

Dylan (Jr. Lakan Isa), me, Mark Lynn, Mr. Chick, and Tomas (Lakan Isa)
It's been fun being a part of developing our two Lakans to their new rank.  I was there when they both started, and I've watched each of them grow.  Both of them have their own special strengths and weaknesses, and I enjoy being paired with each of them for different reasons.

No, I don't like to be paired with Dylan just because I like beating up kids - which I totally do, of course - but he's really sharp and that kid can flow, y'all!

It was a successful day and the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.  And now there are four black belts under our teacher in our style, and I am in good company.  I know they'll continue to work hard, and learn, and grow.

Tell me about a black belt promotion you've been a part of, or attended.  Any funny or amazing stories? Let us know in the comments!