As I’m writing this, I’m 20 minutes and a quick meal away from one of my least favourite things in the entire world.
I’m a member of a karate club and every Monday and Thursday I go to the classes. I’ve been going for around 7 years. Usually it’s great, because my brother, my sister and one of my best friends all go as well as me. It’s often hard work but it’s rewarding. If you train hard enough, you can grade and get a new belt! Which is what I’m about to do. And I hate it, for numerous reasons.
For starters, it’s half an hour’s drive to the place where we grade, and the whole way I’m anxious and edgy. Then once we arrive, it’s a karate session as usual (but in the place where we grade instead) except it’s SILENT, to allow the people grading to concentrate. So that’s unpleasant. Throughout the session people are sent to grade. The lower grades go first. Since I’m now only 2 grades away from reaching black belt, I reckon I’ll be one of the last to do it.
Eventually it will reach the actual grading. You stand in front of the examiner and they ask you to do various techniques. It takes a long time, especially because higher grades also have to do sparring in pairs. I always feel like my techniques are worse on a grading than they are usually. I know going into this grading that my stances aren’t long enough but I can hardly change it on the day.
By the end I’m red in the face and in desperate need of a drink. After we have finished we receive our results: first, second or third class-pass. Or, of course, fail. But to be honest it’s hard to fail. These revered results come free with a handful of soul-crushing criticism to make you feel like you and your karate are truly terrible. Then the examiner calls all the parents and the rest of the people who have graded- who have been nosily peering through the window- to come in and says a few words. Usually its “Overall, a good grading, but you all need to work a lot harder.”
In summary, it’s a horrible experience, and despite having done it many times it hasn’t gotten any easier. I really care about how I do in these gradings, which is often why I end up crying like a baby at the end. Although I’ve never received a devastating result, I somehow always get upset. I know it’s ridiculous but I can’t help it. This time, however, I’m going in with a stress-free, almost careless attitude and see how that works out. Obviously I’m not stress-free and careless, but hey. Fake it ’til you make it.