Guise. I'm a Black Belt.

I genuinely apologise for how long it took to do this post. My exam was actually way back in December! Even before the Alive Concert...but I've been waiting for all the paperwork and certificates and stuff to come from Japan and everywhere to do a proper post on it!

Back on the 13th December 2012 I took my 1st Dan exam! I'd obviously suffered from my back injury after my last exam, so it was all pretty tense in the build up to this one...everyone (including myself) was getting paranoid about what I'd injure this time. I actually got out of this one with just a sprained wrist and a black eye. Which for me, that's pretty much the same level of injury that I get from a regular class, so it was pretty good.

The biggest point about this one was the amount of time needed to do it. I'm not going to lie to you guys, my school work lagged like crazy in December because of this. Most days I was going straight from school to karate, then coming home around I was leaving the house at 7AM and not returning for over 12 it wasn't great for my sleep pattern! I was doing more time at karate than I was time in class for a while. But it was all worth it! And hey, it was pretty fun!

There was 5 of us grading on that day. Myself, my younger brother, two others on our belt and also a 1st dan going for 2nd. They're all men (apart from my baby brother...but he's the same height as I just see him on the same level as them these days!) and are all like at least a foot taller than me ㅋㅋ. So I knew it wasn't going to be fun.

But actually. Not going to lie. It wasn't too bad.

I did obviously get bits wrong. I don't think I've ever seen anyone not get anything wrong. I forgot the name of Funakoshi's tutors in the oral exam section and I forgot a couple of combinations in the fighting.
But other than that...I don't think I made too many mistakes!

The exam itself was after our normal Thursday classes and lasted just a couple of hours. It was actually a lot shorter than I thought it would be. But I'm not complaining!
I'll quickly go into the like timeline of what we did, but it won't make much sense to those who don't do/know karate!

First up was the kihon, just the basic syllabus stuff honestly. Blocks, punches and kicks. Most of them were 4 forward and then 4 again backward - at this club we step back as opposed to turning and going back as I did in my previous one.
After was the fighting I think? (it was either that or kata...) I honestly don't remember the order after that bit. But they went alright. As the only female, I had some others to fight with rather than going with the men - that's probably why I didn't get injured! - but that was all good!

Then the oral bit! Which was a bit hit-and-miss honestly. I don't really know what I was expecting, but I tried to blag this section honestly! My limited knowledge of conversational Japanese doesn't really help as much with the specialised terminologies...but I guess that's understandable! The questions were stuff from just normal terminology of techinques, to the recitation of the Dojo-kun and then questions about the history of karate as well.
I think I found the oral bit the hardest. It sounds bad...but I don't think it would have been as hard if it was in Japan because the pronounciations I had learn were the standard Japanese ones, I hadn't accounted for the fact that I was taking the exam in rural England where people have no clue about how to speak Japanese!

It took a while for our certificates to come. We've now got two certificates, one from the club and one from NAKMAS. I currently own one belt, which doesn't have embroidery on it~ I need to buy one with my name on it at some point... and also a little card thing. Which I still don't understand the point of. It just seems to be another license honestly!

I'm also now featured on the official black belt register on the internet! You can find me in the latest section!

Honestly I wasn't expecting much to change after my exam, I already spent most of my time training with 1st Dan. I currently do only about 4 hours a week and it's crazy different!
It sounds really odd, but because they're no pressure or anything to learn everything~ it's all just a lot easier! I can spend more time working on things like my kime and kiai and everything (which are my weakest areas).

My first lesson back after my exam - which wasn't until like the second week of January because I had a month of (my first break in karate since I started! ㅋㅋ it was so strange not going!) - I finally managed to understand loads of things that I just couldn't before.
It's genuinely hard to explain most of this stuff because I can't even explain most of it to friends and everything....and I don't understand some of it myself even.

But although I'm only half way through the belt system...and only on my first dan~ it's pretty relaxing. There's now no pressure to have to do anything!
I can't take another exam for at least 2 years, and then I should be at uni it'll probably be delayed a little because of that! But it should be fun!

At the moment, we're just learning new kata and doing drills~ which is fun and all because I enjoy kata. It always reminds me of ballet. And although I know that I'll never be able to do ballet again, or stand on pointe or anything (due to my back injury)... kata is like a half way point where I can feel like I've got a routine...but yeah! It's all good!

Hopefully we're all going to TMAS again this year, so if any of you are going, I'll see you there hopefully! Last year we were talking about going as a demonstration...honestly~ I'm not sure how that will work out this one has said anything about it~ and yeah, I'm not totally sure about that! But if it turns out that we are, then I'll let you know in advance!
Really, most of us go to TMAS for the Shaolin guys and to pick up some new equipment and stuff but it's a nice little social event I guess! If I go this year, I hope I'm more organised and sociable! Last year I just went around with my 언니 and S언니's 동생 I need to do more this time!

Have a nice day everyone! And HWAITING!
And as said by Girls' Generation's beautiful maknae Seohyun:

And I'm going to be really gross and cheesy and thank my buddy for helping me through all this and keeping me sane! So thanks! <3