On the 16th November I made my way to the Judo club where I would be attempting to pass my Dan grade theory test. For those of you who are not aware, in the BJA there are two parts to the 1st dan black belt test, the Dan grade theory is usually done first followed by the competitive part which is to obtain 100 points in competition against other brown belts. This basically equates to winning 10 fights via Ippon. As I had already passed the competitive part of my dan grading I had just to pass the theory test and then I would be officially a black belt.
I arrived on a Sunday morning at 9.30am and was told to expect the day to last until approx. 4.30pm, which is quite a long time to be doing Judo. I was thankful that, in this room full of twenty strangers a familiar face appeared that of big Russ from Witley.
The course was quite informal despite both the examiners being 5th dans. They went over a variety of techniques from the syllabus and allowed us all plenty of time to practise them. Having Russ as my uke made things like the first set of nage-no-kata particularly easy for me as he is roughly the same height as myself. This meant I didn’t need to bend down quite so low when executing the Ippon seoi nage and the kata-guruma and likewise when I was his uke.
Just before we were both tested all the techniques went out of my head. I was watching the other judoka doing their tests and when the examiner called out the technique they wanted to see I had no idea what it was. It was like I had never done Judo in my life. All the Japanese names suddenly made no sense to me. Then when we were called every technique suddenly did make sense and I nailed every throw, counter and combination first time with ease. The pass mark is 190 out of 270 points and I scored 242 so I felt like a really deserved to pass.
I got more out of this days course than just my black belt, I got a lot of confidence. I am able to perform every technique in the Gokyo to a reasonable standard, which when you consider how many throws and strangles and arm locks and hold there are is no mean feat.
What I didn’t get from passing this course was the elation that I got when I won my line-up, or batsugun as they call it in Japan. This was more of a relief.
Now back to why I haven’t posted about this until now, well I was to be officially awarded my black belt by my club and I wanted to take photos and add them to this post but there has been a delay in getting the belt embroidered so I won’t get it until the New Year now. In the interim I am wearing a plain Adidas black belt which feels a bit strange and I do find myself keep looking down at it. I still have tons to learn but I feel like I am now ready to start learning Judo, if that makes sense? I know the basics and am able to apply them to anything new I learn. I’m also ready to start refining my Tokui-waza and will try to become something of an Uchi-mata god over the coming years.
So what now? Well I’m not sure what else I can add to this blog. It was always about my Judo journey from white belt to black and beyond. Now that I am a black belt I don’t feel I am ready to turn this in to an educational blog like this one which is an excellent resource if you are nearing dan grade level, however I also don’t think I want to continue the blog in its current guise where I write about each class I had and each technique I learnt in that class. So for now I will add the odd post when something interesting happens but you can expect posts like this to be a lot less frequent from now on.