It took the best part of 8 minutes to examine, approve, confirm and stamp the abilities and progress displayed by the 7 of us taking the leap from 9th to 8th kyu.
Osu! Sanchin dachi! Yoi! Kihon (4 or 5 reps on the count); Pinan Sono San! Yoi!… two kiais , Osu! 40 push ups, 40 kick squats and done; Pfew, that’s efficient or what?! Fred, very good you get 7th Kyu, others pass to 8th kyu. Next! The “being tested & rising to the occasion” left me a little hungry.
Maybe it was winter that cut through the ranks, or maybe a measure of pre-selecting aspiring candidates, I will never know. There were a good 35 of us, expectantly taking a promotion test this week, a third of the numbers from last November.
The testing ranged from 10th for the novices to 4th kyu; the more advanced gradings, beyond 3rd kyu, are conducted in Shanghai; no one was taking 3rd kyu. In total, two students did not pass and two, myself included, got a double promotion, the rest a normal one.
From 5th to 4th kyu, a minute of kumite spiced up the event: this time, two of the three students were paired against each other. I did not see their fight but they must have done well & were promoted.
My friend Alex was battling Mr. Ye at that same time. Mr. Ye is a very good brown belt and our part time instructor. I was curious to see what Alex’s 98Kg and solid low kicks would do to Mr. Ye’s lighter build; a new request to remain inside a square made of 4 mat tiles (yes, 2×2m or 7×7 feet square), dramatically reduced escape options: a little bit like whacking someone in an elevator!
Our dojo limits the techniques one can use at this level: only low kicks and fist techniques are allowed! There must be a rationale to it, but I ignore which. I regret this limitation because my imagination runs wild at the thought of being pitted against a 50 pounds lighter opponent in 4 square meters with no place to run & the possibility to use my knees on their bodies & faces… But let’s not get carried away, the rules will have changed by the time it is my turn.
An hour after it started, everyone was on its way home with a new belt. While driving, I was wondering why we didn’t take the chance to have a good training session with Shihan; there was no urgency, he was not returning to Shanghai that evening; it would have been a pretty good opportunity to learn something.