This weekend we are testing for promotion our second batch of first degree black belts, or as we call it, Lakan Isa (both candidates are male - female black belts are called Dayang). One of our candidates is also the first Junior black belt in our program. We're also testing some lower rank folks for various ranks, but these two are the "big" ones of the test.
This is, of course, a big deal in our school.
Mr. Chick and I were our program's first black belts. We were promoted via secret test and surprise promotion in August 2013. So for this test, we're on the board but we're also the candidates' main partners on the test. I expect to be locked, tossed to the ground, and pretend beaten up for about three hours.
My kind of day!
Like many schools, rank at Hidden Sword is earned on the mat, not in a test. The only way to fail is to give up or quit in the middle of it. I have lots of confidence in everyone testing that they'll get through this just fine - in fact, they may be better prepared for the next rank than we were three and a half years ago.
If you've read this blog a while, you know that I'm sort of ambivalent about rank and rank testing. While I see the value of such things, I think we put way too much emphasis on it than we need to sometimes. I'm not wild about special privileges in a school based on rank, for example.
What's important are the skills you're acquiring, not the rank you're earning.
That being said, the jump to black usually represents a big step forward in a person's training. What's expected of you on the mat changes. The responsibility you have in your school changes. And if you've been promoted correctly - at the right time and stage of your training - your ability to learn accelerates, because you're mastered the basics and you don't have to think so hard any more.
That certainly was the case for me, even if I was sort of shell-shocked for a few months after we were promoted. I'm a very, very different kind of player now than I was then, not only due to the influences I've gotten cross-training (especially in kobudo), but to the deeper understanding of our style itself.
Of course, the opportunity to train with some of the top people around didn't hurt.
I fully expect this weekend's test to go off without a hitch. The folks testing are as ready as they can be. It's going to be awesome.
As an aside, Mr. Chick and I are also testing, for 2nd degree black (Lakan/Dayang Dalawa). Wish us luck.
Tell us about any big milestones in your school you've been a part of, or about a big important rank test you've taken. Any funny testing stories? Let us know in the comments!