Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Black belt

I've been practising aikido since 2004 and recently passed my 1st dan grading.  I don't know what I expected, but have now realised it's a really BIG deal!

In the past I haven't enjoyed many of my gradings or other exams, either due to nerves or being unhappy with my performance. 
On the day, I woke up at 6:00 a.m. with a smile on my face! Any nerves had gone and I was just very excited. When I was called up in front of the 6 grading officers, I couldn't help coming up wearing a huge grin. The weirdness started once I began the movements... is this me... I feel very relaxed... oops, there's another kotagaeshi whilst I sort myself out... and then very little thought at all, except to keep going.

The world just fell away, apart from my uke and I. No time to think, no time to doubt. I can honestly say it's the longest time I've been that present, what an amazing mindfulness experience. I was only really aware of the grading officers when I realised I was about to aim my uke at them! I've done much more perfect technique in class, but am proud of the positivity I showed and that I kept going without any signs of stress.

I don't know if it's strange to say I feel I've changed and can't go back. Some thing has shifted and I'm still finding out just what that means. I predicted I would have to work quite a bit on my self belief to pass and I was right. Previously, I've lost count of the number of times I've stopped myself during a movement, and been doing it right any way. 
On the face of it, my aikido belt is a darker colour, but it means much more than that.

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