I just wanted to congratulate the five shodan candidates from MVD who will be travelling to Napier this weekend for their Black Belt grading. Jamie, Chetan, Darsheka, Dom & Christian. It might seem premature but in my view the few months before a shodan grading are the most arduous of your entire Kyokushin career! I’d venture to say it’s a particularly tough experience at MVD!
Chris views a NZ black belt as much more than an opportunity to demonstrate you can replicate a bunch of routines, endure a long day and a hiding! Chris’s expectation of the black belts is that they will take ownership of the material they are asked to learn and will understand the context and start to get an idea of the relative value and importance of what they are doing and how it works for them versus others!
Right when you think you might get MORE training/answers/good attention you get booted out of the boat and expected to swim! The attention seems all negative, when you expect answers you get questions, and there’s no ‘how to’ guide to preparing for the big day! It’s a frustrating time trying to map the National syllabus to the material we learn at MVD, working with other candidates and partners who are a lifeline but who also have different strengths and training preferences, and to top it off you get different answers to questions and versions of techniques from every black belt in the club!
To Chris the learning process and the creation of confident, unique, thinking, questioning black belts is more important than the production of cookie cutter ‘mini-me’ versions of himself! So I find myself holding my breath, hoping the candidates can handle the heat and get themselves to a point where they’ll perform on the day!
It suits my psychology to think of myself as my new grade prior to the day. The day is simply an opportunity to demonstrate (hopefully with some style) that you are wearing the wrong belt, that you’re prepared to step up, that you have strengths and that you’re prepared to put your weaknesses out there for all to see! Regardless what happens on the day, this year’s five candidates, like all those before them, have already made the leap they needed to to prepare for the next leg on the Kyokushin journey. They should pause, visualise that black belt wrapped around their waist, think about those black belts they admire, think about how they want to look as a black belt, relax and focus on channelling their new ‘black belt self’ into a performance like they’ve never given before!
The worst part is done and every candidate has already earned the respect of every sempai in the dojo. You’re not doing it alone anymore, you’re one of us!!! Although, as Shihan Alex so succinctly put it, “We’re not going all the way to Napier to watch you suck your thumb!”