Monday, December 10, 2012

You Have to Face Your Fears

(This is part three of a four part series on my black belt test.  For part one, go here, for part two go here.)


After the morning session, I was so hungry!  As soon as we got in the car I told Mr. Helen I wanted to stop at Shop-Rite and buy a bagel.  My plan was to eat an egg, ham and cheese bagel sandwich around 11 am which would give me a good carbohydrate and protein boost and plenty of calories for the afternoon session.  As soon as we got in the grocery store and went to the bakery, I spied a cinnamon roll.  Freshly baked and glazed.  I bought it and when I got home, I ate it with a cup of hot coffee.  There may never be another cinnamon roll in my life that tastes as good as that one did.

After showering and stretching a bit, I basically just sat around and relaxed, waiting for 12:30 to come so we could get ready to go back.  I thought I might fall asleep but again was so wound up I couldn't.  I did, however, have to deal with leg cramps that were identical to the ones I got when I ran my very first marathon.  They started at my ankle and went all the way up the inside of my leg to the very top.  Even though Mr. Helen felt for me, he couldn't help but laugh at my jumping around trying to get them to subside.

Unfortunately, right around noon, after I had eaten, I felt like I could sleep but didn't dare do so.  I think the waiting between the morning session and the afternoon session was worse than the short sleep from Friday night to Saturday morning.

Soon enough though we arrived back at the dojo where we each had an individual photo taken and then a couple of large group photos.  The Shihan told us he did this prior to the test finish so we all wouldn't look a hot and sweaty mess.  Then he told us Photoshop existed to edit out anyone who didn't make it.

Once the photos were done, my team had a quick meeting finalizing what we would do for our show and then we all put on our full sparring gear.  Full gear consists of headgear, a mouthpiece, a chest protector, gloves and shin guards. We marched out to the main room and stood in line waiting to be given instructions.

The first thing that was done was to separate the youth  from the teens and adults.  Then we were told to get in groups of three.  My sensei and team captain asked me to be in her group and then she chose Bronwyn who was a teen karate candidate.  I realize now she did this because as a 3rd degree candidate she needed to know both the karate and Muay Thai material so that gave her one of each to spar with.  We were sent into the back room and began to spar in  1 1/2 minute rounds.   Then one person would step out and the other would come in.  The result was you sparred for 3 minutes straight - just like a real boxing match!  The Senseis were there sort of referreeing and making sure nothing got out of control.  To be blunt, it was exhausting and I was sweating like a stuck pig with all that gear on.

After we did that, we were told to switch rooms so we went back out to the front room where the Shihan instructed us to form a large circle around the perimeter of the room.  He then called out Sensei Sheryle and one of the 2nd degree candidates and put them in the middle.  We thought they were going to fight, but nope, he challenged us:  Who has what it takes to spar with these top guns?

Confession:  I have never liked the sparring aspect, even though I know it teaches me things I need to know about self defense.  But I have always just been so afraid that either I would get hurt or I'd hurt someone.  By now my stomach was doing flips as I realized I was going to have to spar someone in front of a bunch of people (including Mama Helen, my sister, Jacob and Gracie).  Then the group of women from my dojo who had come out to support started chanting, "Helen! Helen! Helen!"  Even though I had been sparring with my in the back room, this was different.  It was in the ring, in front of the Shihan.  I took a deep breath and faced a fear I've had for nearly 4 years:  sparring my own Sensei, who I was pretty sure was going to take me down.

I'm not even sure how long we sparred, but not only did I manage to stay on my feet, I actually got a couple of kicks and shots in on the Sensei!

Once done we were asked to kneel so that the Shihan would know that we had been in the ring.  As we knelt there, I lifted my headgear up to cool off a bit and thought about how glad I was that that part was over.  I knew we were coming up to around 2:45 and the session was scheduled to end at 3:30 so I was beginning to anticipate the end.

All of the participants finished and then the moment came that broke me...

Tomorrow the conclusion (I know some of you are thinking, finally!).  In the meantime, please enjoy this video of me sparring with my Sensei in the back room.  Constant hilarious commentary and coaching provided by Mr. Helen!


    Ive loved how youve brought us into the process (and totally stalked you on the book of the face).

    **awaits the moment which broke you on the edge of her desk chair!!**



  2. Helen I'm so so impressed with these posts about your black belt. When you told us you were going up for this, I had no idea how hard and difficult it would be and with every post I admire you more.

  3. Oh my! Sparring in front of an audience. Yes, that would be my biggest fear!!

  4. I have enjoyed these posts Helen - can't wait for the final recap!!! You are amazeballs! :D

  5. Having done just some of the things you've told us about so far, and knowing the personalities involved, the pressure, etc., you know I've got some deep, deep DEEEEEEEP respect and awe for you.

  6. The sparring thing is why I don't do any martial arts stuff. I took a self defense course (which I hope I never have to use), but I would worry more about hurting someone else.

    Of course, I certainly would *not* want to spar against you and get my ass kicked!!

    Looking forward to part IV!

  7. Well, you ran after not being able to run for a while and you faced a fear by sparring your own Sensei, in front of people and loved ones! You have done worked so hard and done so well! I can't wait to see how it ends!


  8. Kudos for facing your fears - sparring against your instructor had to have been so intimidating. Plus having an audience? I think I'd have been puking at that point. Good job, Helen!

  9. Loved these posts. Can't wait to read the next recap. Have a happy Monday Helen.