Standing a Little Taller

There were times when I could not see myself as a Black Belt.  There were times when I did not want to see myself as a Black Belt. There were times I thought I would never make it to Black Belt. Well, that time has passed. I am now a newly promoted first degree black belt. It has been a very long road, with many obstacles, physical, mental and social.

I started training in May of 2005 with a friend and we were very gung-ho, going to every class offered during the week and practicing together on the other days. We were going to fly through the color belt levels and get a black belt in no time at all. What a great expectation. We were so hard on ourselves when we messed up our forms or forgot something. Then, little by little, real life crept into the training time and class time. I had some health issues and injuries, then family commitments would pop up. I turned around and it was a couple of years since I had been to class. What happened?

After a 5 year postponement in my training, I came back, just so I could say I did not quit. I was really hoping for a loophole to get out of completing my training. I thought maybe I could “forget” a tournament or seminar and then not be eligible for testing. I was diligent about my training and class attendance, but I was not there mentally. I could not see myself as a black belt, and I was okay with this attitude for a time. I continued to test through my color belts, and even when I became a 1st Gup, I really did not see it. I knew I did not want to quit, but maybe I could just remain a brown/with black stripe forever. Yeah, fat chance with the Twymans.

The Masters Twyman allowed me the time to train and come to the mental state where I could see myself with a black belt. So when that happened, I walked into class and told Master Lisa Twyman, “I’m ready, I can see it”. That started what felt like a landslide of training for me. The pre-testing date was set and the group of us preparing to test came together to work, encourage and assist each other in training. The pre-test was hard and, at one point, I thought that nothing was worth all of this.  But then, it was over and I was an official Black Belt candidate.  Wow look at me!

Now there is something I should tell you; for the day I started hearing about the elusive black belt tests, I kind of thought it was a ruse. I had it in my mind that I would show up for testing and it would be this kind of joke, “Hey you passed the pre-test which is the real test.”   HaHa, even walking into the official black belt test I thought, “Maybe it is all a huge show”.  Then we got started.  Yep I was wrong in so many ways. I was tested to my physical, mental and spiritual limits!  But I survived! And passed! Yeah me!

The first class after testing (even though I did not actually have my physical black belt) I was a black belt in spirit. Training class had changed for me. I was punching harder, blocking better and standing taller; and that is saying something for me. So being a black belt is more than just possessing a belt that is black in color. It is a way in thinking, acting and living.

Written by Kymberly Hardin