Exam for the 1st DAN

The exam for the 1st DAN — “It’s about time”; was the com­ment of my long-time friend Peter Mixa. I have known the hol­der of the 7th DAN in Wado Ryu Kara­te for more than 20 years. And even then, Peter was alrea­dy high­ly deco­ra­ted, I could talk to him not only about cars, but also about mar­ti­al arts.

It is done, I will tie my jacket with the black belt in the future. At the moment, howe­ver, still with a some­what shady fee­ling. And that’s how it happens:

Actual­ly, I felt very safe befo­re the exam. For mon­ths I pre­pa­red mys­elf, swea­ting, stret­ching and prac­ti­cing almost dai­ly for the last weeks.
Actual­ly, so I thought, I had all the weak points of my still mana­ge­ab­le skills rea­son­ab­ly safe­ly under con­trol. 5 Sai­fas, 4 Tai Tsu­kus and the 1st mas­ter form sat safe­ly. As wea­pon forms I had cho­sen the 2nd Bo-Kata and the Sai-Kata. For the Sai, who like to get caught in the slee­ves of their suits when spin­ning, I had the slee­ves of my Gi shortened.
Actual­ly all part­ner exer­ci­ses, 10 tech­ni­ques and 30 kum­i­te, were prac­ti­ced count­less times.

Nor­mal­ly all the­se skills and some more, such as Bo block forms or self-defen­se, are requi­red in an exam. Accord­in­gly I was curious if my con­di­tio­nal abi­li­ties would be suf­fi­ci­ent for this mara­thon pro­gram. Tech­ni­cal­ly, I had all the skills (I thought), and in terms of atti­tu­de, ever­ything was clear (I know).

On 20 June the time had come: I had wis­hed that I would not be tes­ted in the usu­al way, i.e. by our silence-inter­nal mas­ters, but in front of a some­what lar­ger sta­ge. And sin­ce the sum­mer exams were com­ing up in our Sei­bu­kan asso­cia­ti­on, it was obvious to take part in the upper school exams. So, in addi­ti­on to my trai­ner Flo, Andre­as Brech­mann (6th DAN Kem­po), Her­bert Zielin­ski (4th DAN Kem­po), Syl­ke Kie­l­on (4th DAN Kem­po), Rein­hold Wei­de­mann (3rd DAN Kem­po) and Max Hett­mann (2nd DAN Kem­po) gathe­red as exami­ners. An illus­trious round, repre­sen­ting almost all Kem­po styles of our region.

Tog­e­ther with me, eight other can­di­da­tes com­pe­ted, some for the brown belt, some for the 1st or even the 3rd DAN. The catch of this lar­ge group: Only excerp­ts from the actu­al exami­na­ti­on pro­gram­me were to be shown. The catch for me: I was exci­ted like a begin­ner. And alt­hough I can be a pret­ty cool sock in gene­ral, this time the ner­vous­ness sub­si­ded much later. I alrea­dy had my first wob­bles with the Ippon-Kum­i­te. Then the second kata I had to show, name­ly our 5th Sai­fa, real­ly went into the box. All of a sud­den not­hing worked any­mo­re. So short break, then again. That was embarr­as­sing … The who­le remai­ning forms were accom­pa­nied by small unclean­li­ness and wob­bles which I thought I had eli­mi­na­ted long ago.
I only beca­me more rela­xed when my trai­ner Flo, who gui­ded me through the test, deman­ded free figh­t­ing. Ther­eby the safe­ty came back, after­wards the self-defence pro­gram with my part­ner Uwe ran smooth­ly. And when the bre­aka­ge tests were clean, it was clear that I pas­sed the test qui­te confidently.

But my ambi­ti­on and my own self-image are not real­ly satis­fied with a “just pas­sed” exam. I am sure that I can and may car­ry the 1st DAN right­ly, but I am not real­ly satis­fied with my own performance.
But that is “the way”: New tasks and chal­len­ges are always pre­sen­ted, some­ti­mes qui­te unex­pec­ted­ly. This is exact­ly the exci­ting thing about dealing with mar­ti­al arts: the actu­al fight takes place with your own self.

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