At One With Heart, the black belt test is a 48 hour deal testing event. The brown sash test is 24 hours. This weekend, there is a black best test that started at midnight Friday night/Saturday morning and a brown sash test that started at noon on Saturday. The black belt candidates spend 24 hours doing physical things that range from showing sets and forms, to doing their hold blindfolded, to fighting (lots!), to teaching to selfless service to a 10 mile run, to a night walk. Then they spend 24 hours in meditation. The brown sash candidates do much the same, but in halves - 12 hours of physical, 5 mile run and then 12 hours of mediation.
I went round and round in my head about when I was going to go and participate. There is a lot to do, even if you're not testing. There is set up, some training with the testers, fighting, getting water for the testers, serving them food, serving food to the black belts that are running the test, a big black belt dinner that happens during the event, a night walk to participate in and then meditation to monitor for hour long periods of time. Whew.
I knew I wanted to go, but midnight? Still, everyone told me that was the most fun time to go, so I decided I would, even though I'd had a few really bad nights of sleep and was pretty tired on Friday. I decided to go to bed around 6pm and sleep for a while before going. I never did fall asleep and gave it up for lost around 8:30.
I headed over around 11:20 to help with set up. It was amazing how many people in my neighborhood were out and about. People-wise, it felt like day. That was even kind of fun to see. Once I was there, I didn't really feel tired again until about 3am when there was some down time for history questions and the like. Then I got hit with a wanting to go to bed sort of feeling and took my leave. Many people had already left by then.
It was really interesting to watch the black belt candidates do their thing. They demonstrated skills from Cun Tao on up and quickly, in any given thing, got past what I know. I particularly enjoyed the parts that I do know, though, and they kept appearing, so that was fun.
I got to participate in one fight that night and would have done more, but didn't jump in quickly enough on that round of fighting and then missed the other rounds, which must have happened after I left.
I came home, finally fell asleep around 4am, slept until just after 9am, then got up, worked on laundry (showing up in a clean gi every time became an issue, even though I have two sets of whites, which is what we wear to testing), had some honeydew mellon and was out the door for the 10am fighting class. The black belt candidates came and taught the class in turns. Actually, three of the four did while the forth helped in the concurrent Cun Tao class, where there was only one student that day.
I stuck around to help set up for the kids' classes that follow and to be there for the start of the brown sash test at noon. That was fun, too, and had a bit of a different vibe as there were fewer students watching and a lot more kids. Two kids that are going to be doing the brown sash test themselves in a couple of weeks were there to get an idea of what they were in for. There was one very fun (literally, people were laughing), but also very highly skilled fight that happened. Those two fighters were obviously having a lot of fun, but were also obviously working hard and throwing some serious stuff at each other. One of the fighters went to the trash can to upchuck after a blow to the belly, but just ended up gagging some and went right back to fighting. That sounds bad, and I'm sure it didn't feel good, as I found out personally later (more on that in a bit), but she went right back to fighting and even laughing after. "Sometimes it's fun to suffer."
I left at 2pm to shower and go watch Davan's end of camp show, then got dropped off to help set up for the black belt dinner that evening, which I'd previously signed on for. That took a while and was...interesting.
During one of the down times, I was watching one of the black belt candidates do some training to show his family, who'd shown up to see the test. It's hard to know for families, when to come, as things are happening over such a period of time and only some things are interesting. For example, when his family came, the black belt candidates had just gotten back from a couple of hours of selfless service (in this case gardening for our school head) and were getting cleaned up and ready for dinner. (They get fed rice and chicken (or tofu for veggie types) every 6 hours or so, which they sit on mats and eat.) One of the black belts left the dinner and directed the candidate through some things to show. I was watching and got drafted to fight with him so they could see that. That was fine with me, as I think it's fun and I learn something every time I fight. Plus, he's not really allowed to hurt me as I'm a lowly white sash.
I'd also taken clothes so I could participate in the night walk if that seemed like the right thing to do, but I was really undecided about that. I allowed myself to be talked into going, as I was sort of inclined to anyway and then it turned out that they needed everyone they could muster up because there weren't really enough people going.
The night walk takes place on a trail in Forrest Park in the dark. The testers walk down the trail where attackers are placed to jump out at them. They fend off the attacker and then walk on until they get to their candle at the end of the trail. I have to admit that I was a bit afraid of being a danger to myself. After all, they can't really tell who's coming at them, so my white sash-ness wasn't a lot of protection.
I'm glad I ended up going because it's something I need to work on. I was not a very good attacker. I was scared to try much because of my fear of being clobbered. I was probably more scared than the testers about the actual fights. LOL I ended up just kind of jumping out with my hands out, not really attacking.
The first candidate was past me before I jumped, which would have been good, but I was confused about who was who in the dark (they walk with judges and a first aid person) and didn't really go after him. He came after me, though, and got a few hard hits in, then break was called and he was off.
Next, I jumped out right as the second person passed. She had an amazing verbal rebuff, which we were supposed to respect if it was forceful enough and that combined with a stop kick in my direction was enough to get me to back off.
I couldn't see the third person who was wearing dark clothes at all. I heard her, jumped out, and got stop kicked in the stomach. I'm still feeling that a bit today, but I'm okay - my many mosquito bites are bothering me more. When we got back to the school after, there was a dirty foot print on my stomach. Nice.
The fourth candidate kind of walked by me with a comment about staying back, but I wasn't convinced, so I followed him, but didn't really do anything. He turned and buffeted me about the head for a moment before break was called and on he went.
So, I kind of sucked at it. We were supposed to, I realized later, jump out at people more in an animal sort of way than in human attacker sort of way. I did think a lot about just sweep kicking out or pouncing, but never did have the nerve. It might have been better for me if I had done that, though, as just kind of jumping out resulted in them attacking me.
Anyway, it wasn't my favorite thing, but I'm glad I went and I feel like part of the club now. I can progress from here, overcome my fear of really going at it and see what I can do. Better to figure that out now than when I'm doing my black belt test...someday.
I got home about 12:30 last night (too late to eat any hot dogs myself) and when to bed, where I actually pretty much just fell asleep. I managed to sleep in until nearly 9:00, which was the best night's sleep I've had in a while, but was also not really enough to make up for the short previous night nor the restless nights that proceeded it.
Tonight will be another late one. I'm going to sit in on meditation from 7-8pm, then there is a shift at the desk if needed to let people in and that sort of thing. I'll come back home after, when we may have some ice cream, depending on how our eating is going, then I'll head back over for the midnight rice ceremony., where in I have permission to eat the rice if that's what seems like the right thing to do, even though it's not R day. It appears to be part of the ceremony., but I really don't want to miss it. I hear it's really awesome to be a part of it.
Darn, I just realized that what would have also been fun to go for the end of the brown sash test, but I just missed it. Oh well.
Davan is taking Ranger out for her Monday morning walk, so I'll get another chance to sleep in. I imagine it'll take a while for me to really recover sleep-wise, but I wouldn't have missed it. It's been really fun, bonding and educational.