White and Black

by Jinryu

I’m less banged up the morning after a night of judo.  I dont’ know if I’m getting better at judo yet, but, I am getting tougher from all the beatings.

 

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Just to see how some people do it, I was watching replays of 2012 Judo at the olympics.  Two things.  That doesn’t look anything like the judo we do.  And second thing– why can’t they ever get announcers for martial arts events who know what the fuck they’re talking about??  And third, when they actually have commentators who sound like they do know what they’re talking about– get some that have some appeal as  MCs!  A lot of the time, they don’t say enough, or don’t say it in an interesting way.

 

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The training sessions only last 2 hours, but I have yet to do the full warmup routine.  Actually… when I look around the room, pretty much nobody does all of it, because there’s just too many push-ups and sit-ups.  But I intend to be able to do it at some point.

 

[CM] has been going to play badminton with her classmates recently.  Usually I join her, but my schedule doesn’t match theirs so I haven’t been able to for the past couple of weeks.  I tell her, it’s a good time to be playing badminton.  They’re all beginners, you see.  I think that’s a great stage to be at.

For those of you who don’t know, many martial arts, generally the Japanese based ones, use color coded belt system.  You start off at white, usually work your way up to yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, then black.  Most people know about black belts because of popular culture.  In reality, there’s a huge difference between the grade of black belt you have as well– once you get to black, there’s levels of black belt (though they all still wear a black belt, it might just be indicated by stripes or some symbols, if at all).

In theory, a white belt is basically an absolute beginner.  A first grade black belt is advanced.  But on the other hand– the way I like to think of it is that a first grade black belt means that you’re now prepared to learn.

 

At the moment, I’m a white belt in judo.  This pretty much reflects my ability– there’s so many things about the very basis of balance that just make no sense to me.  It’s great though– because every day that I go in there, I find I’m a little bit harder for the others to toss around. I feel like my body has to work a little bit less hard to do the same thing.  Actually, I even managed to submit a more senior white belt like 6 times in a row, but to be fair, that’s because that was ground work, not throwing.  I did manage to throw an orange belt a couple of times, but it was a girl who was something like 10 kilograms lighter than me.  The rest of the night, now that I’m more on the ball with break falls, the orange, blue and brown I went with were pretty nonstop in tossing me around. Anyway– baby steps. 

 

It is nice to be in a position where everything you do is an experiment that yields some sort of result if you’re paying attention for them.

 

This is different from my experience in stand-up striking.  The highest official rank I ever got was a first dan in taekwondo.  At that point, it feels like every little thing you want to improve requires a phenomenal amount of work.  A basic kick is no longer a simple thing– improving it means a degree more of twist here, a milisecond of timing here… Not only that, but there was a lot of heirarchical responsibilities to the people of ranks lower than you.  In a sense, a lot of being a black belt was the training to be an example for others, which demands a much stricter scrutiny.

 

wheras, at a white belt level, there’s a lot more room for experimentation and exaggeration.  Things and more easily quantifyiable.  As a result, you can see and recognise improvement much easier. Assuming that you’ve developed a good eye for it, that’s  what gives you that sense of constant acheivement that makes learning a thing so wonderful.  Everything is fresh.  The emotions are more raw– you more easily feel success as well as dissapointment.  It’s the honeymoon period.

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