Wednesday, October 01, 2008

On Brown Belts and Beyond...

Last night, after a fairly strenuous grading, I finally received my Brown Belt in Shotokan Karate.

If anyone had told me a year ago, when I first joined the Quyon Martial Arts club, led by Sensei Denis Renaud, that I would be one step away from my Black Belt in a year's time, I'd have laughed. Seriously laughed.

At that time, doing a push-up - just one mealsy push-up - was a severe challenge for me. I thought hitting twenty jumping jacks was a huge accomplishment. Twenty sit-ups was a miracle.

And that's just regular fitness stuff. I wasn't sure I'd ever catch on to the principles of Karate - the blocks, strikes, kicks, katas, self-defence. It all looked so difficult and I didn't think I'd ever grasp the physical and mental aspects in order to be able to make it look smooth & effortless like the senior members of the club made it look.

Then there was sparring. I remember a year ago, sitting back in awe, watching the Blue, Brown & Black belts fight at one of the first classes I went to, thinking, "Man, that would be fun...But I'll probably never be able to do it."

A year later, and there I was on the night of my Brown Belt grading, having already made it through white, yellow, orange, green, and blue. Last night, I could comfortably complete nine katas, five sets of self-defence, and I survived however many rounds of sparring I had to do (I didn't keep count - I'd say probably 5 rounds?) I did two sets of 100 jumping jacks, two sets of push-ups (50 the first set, maybe 25 the second), and two sets of ab exercises.

Guys, I'm not trying to toot my own horn here...There is a point to all this. And the point is that anyone can do anything if they put their minds to it!!

I'm a live and breathing example of that.

You have no idea how many times over the past 12 months that I have looked Sensei Denis or Sensei Brenda in the eyes and said, "I can't do that." I've struggled with my own physical limitations and that part of my brain that's always screaming, Just quit!! You can't do it!!

And yet, somehow, here I am, a Brown Belt in Shotokan and a year away from possibly attempting my Black Belt.

It's a little surreal when I step back and really think about it. And it frightens me to think of how far I still have to go. What I'm doing now is barely grazing the surface of what the Brown and Black belts are doing now on their way to the Black and Second Degree Black Belts. Their gradings are much longer, much more intense, and when they talk about doing thousands of jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, and running, it almost makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

Will I ever make it that far? Who knows. But if there's one thing I've learned over the past year is that I might as well try. Otherwise, I'll never know if I can do it or not.


Anonymous said...

Toot that horn, Baby!! You deserve it! We're gonna go all the way, ok?? This is my pledge to you. You will be the wind beneath my wings, and if need, I will return the favour. Look at that, I broke into song. Congratulations friend. Great work.
Toot, toot!!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Jill - very proud of you! Don't really like the color - the other colors were..more colorful but good job anyways!
Now, kick some ass!


Jill said...

Thank you ladies!
And Lolly - huge congrats on your Blue Belt last night!! Awesome!! We'll definitely stick this thing out together - you can sing to me anytime! ;)

Hope you're tooting your horn today, too...

Bouffe said...

Congrats! That's awesome!

Jill said...

Thank you!! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, i'm sorry to say that I don't know any of you but glad to see that karate is groing bigger in the pontiac. I don't know if you guys can help me but I was told that there might a competition going down in luskville, if any one knows anything if possible to post it or e-mail me at

Thank you all for your time
(Jill congrats on your belt!!!)