Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yay! I'm a Black Sash!

Wait a minute.  That's a picture of a brown sash, not a black sash.  I thought she said she was a black sash.

Yes, that is my "old" brown sash you see over there on the left, with all the progress stripes earned over the past year or so.

I told you in the other post that I was being given a second chance to get my black sash.  That "second chance" meant that I had to show up tonight for sparring class, get changed into my gear in 3 minutes or less, and spar whoever was there.

Apparently all the tall men take the sparring class.  I had to fight 5 tall men who punch and kick pretty hard and, frankly, seem to take all this fighting rather seriously.  If I had been able to spar at the black sash test last Friday I would have been in the group of people my height and mixed men and women.  Plus I would have been fighting people who were tired -- not fresh and springy -- which really makes a difference, I tell you.

I got changed into my sparring gear with a minute to spare.  Guess the practice session I had earlier this week served me well.  Despite my careful calculations and accounting for everything, there are always going to be some surprises.  I got changed in the dressing room where all the ladies from the previous class were in there changing and trying to talk to me.  I had to explain -- with a mouthpiece in my mouth -- while changing that I was doing this for my black sash. "Ahm dng dsh fr mah black ssh."

That didn't phase them.  They kept asking me questions.

The other thing -- ha ha -- that I didn't account for was the velcro from my shoes sticking to the rug!!!  You saw me practice outside where the velcro didn't stick.

Nevertheless, all was well.  As I said, I finished with a minute to spare.

As soon as I got out there, the instructor made everyone form a circle and he put me in the middle.

Here's what I wrote to my friend about it:
"The most I had ever sparred was 3 people in a row, but tonight I had to do 5 and it was really hard.  After I got past the 3rd one, Mr. R., my instructor, told me "This is where you have to push through."  I felt like I was sprinting up a mile long hill.  After number 4, he said, "you have to do one more."  He looked me straight in the eye.  I felt like I was dying, but I looked him straight back in the eye and said, "okay, let's go."

Later he told me that when I looked at him and said "let's go," it was what he had been looking for.  And that's what makes you pass the test."
What's funny about this is that this is the kind of intense workout level that I have avoided my whole life.  I felt really winded, like I was doing sprints, or running hills, which are two type of running activities that I don't usually engage in. This was what I was doing during cycle training when my lips turned blue.  I was literally seeing stars at the end of it.

The other funny thing about it is what I told you in another post.  Fighting was about the last thing on earth I ever thought I'd learn to do.  I am a peace-loving person who does not like violence at all.  I was kind of in shock to find out that all this Kung Fu was showing me how to fight.  I have always been the kind of person who had no interest in fighting and I am truly here by accident (if there is such a thing as accidents in this life).

Well, to make a long story short, I did it.  Err -- I mean -- I DID IT!!

And the ritual is that the brown sash is removed and we don't wear a sash until graduation -- which is tomorrow.  I am so-o-o-o happy that I'm going to be moving on to the black sash classes with everyone else and not be left behind.

And now I'm even thinking maybe I'll try running some hills or something.


Barefoot Neil Z said...

Fantastic! Way to go!

WalkslikeFox said...

Fantastic!! Big congratulations from across the pond *cheers*

Janice said...

Awesome. Absolutely Awesome.

BarefootJosh said...

Congrats! I'm so happy for you.

I too don't like violence, but appreciate the contest. Kung Fu, boxing, etc is a chance for people to test and push each other to achieve things neither participants knew were possible. Violence is just destruction.

"Let's go." That was bad ass.

Avocational Singer said...

Thank you, BFNeilZ, Fox, and Janice!

BFJosh -- You put it so well -- "the contest." That's what I was starting to find interesting. I also like that there is some thinking and strategy involved. It wasn't some kind of mindless destructive violence, but you had to study and figure out the other person and decide how you were going to handle it. It's also about self-preservation and "fighting" for something you believe in (in my case I was fighting to not be left behind).

I had to give a speech after the sparring and the speech ended with that I was surprised to find that there was something about sparring I liked now, after it having been my least favorite of all Kung Fu things.

Who would have ever known?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Barefoot Fresca--

I'm thrilled that you achieved the Black Sash! Hoping you might be getting out again as a barefoot runner. Run, Fresca! Run!

Avocational Singer said...

Ken -- I had been running barefoot all along, but only a mile or two a a time about twice a week. Now that I'm finished with the Black Sash project, I'm focusing on my barefoot running. I'm all signed up for the 2nd Annual Barefoot Race event like I did last year, and I'm going back to Disney next January. Yesterday was Day 1 of more serious focus on barefoot running and I took pictures and plan to blog about it but am too busy getting ready for my 50th birthday celebration to put the post together (they're a lot of work, you know!!) But stay tuned ...

Anonymous said...

Wow!! WAY TO GO!!! Woooohooooo!!!!!!!