That Thing You Know Is Not What You Need Now

Today in karate class I spent most of the time relearning the routine I didn’t learn last week. I didn’t learn it because what I did this week is not what I learned last week.

Confused? So was I.

On December 21 I have the test for my sixth level black belt. This involves four katas (two basic and two that cause pain); several seated defenses against punches, kicks and knife attacks; defense against knives when the person’s up close to you and holding your lapel; defense against knives when two people are up close and holding your lapels; defense against punches when being held by two people; counter defense when the guy you’re attacking with a knife messes up his defense and you get the upper hand; knife versus knife fighting and, I think, but I’m not sure, defense against swords.

All this wouldn’t be so bad except, right when I think I’ve got it down, the plan changes. For example, last week I practiced eight seated defenses that start with me sitting in a chair when I’m attacked by a standing opponent. I thought I did pretty well and practiced those moves all week. Then, this week, I suddenly had to do different moves.

I don’t know if this is a deliberate technique of the style but it seems to have happened each time I approached a belt test, learn this, practice it, then do something else. Granted, technically I should be able to do any move or routine when called upon to do it, but it’s the equivalent of being told you’re having a test on subtraction and then suddenly being thrown into an algebra pit. (Which really does exist, I’m pretty sure.)

Next week, it will probably all change again. I’m feeling much more confident this time around than I did a couple years ago when I failed the test. I still make small mistakes that, added together, hurt my chances, but I have most of the basics down.

Now I just need to work on my leg strength by next month so the painful katas are a little less painful.

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