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Saturday's test went very well, and I passed both rank tests: 4th and 3rd kyu (we have an 8 kyu system). I'm feeling pretty good about it, but it was a tough, hot, and exhausting test.
Things started a bit slowly. Our sensei had a couple errands to run before the test. He would have done them sooner, but his girlfriend has been in a car accident the previous Thursday (she's okay), and his schedule got a bit messed up. Micah, our most senior student, warmed us up starting around 9:30 a.m. The test proper started around 10:45 a.m., and didn't end until about 1:30 in the afternoon.
First, we had four guys (Robert, Chris, Kurt, and Zach) testing for 7th kyu. Rich (the other 5th kyu), Aaron (3rd kyu), Micha, and I simply sat and watched during that part of the test. I was, at least in part, very nervous at that point because I knew my time was coming soon and I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to endure the heat and humidity during the test. I was afraid that I'd have to drop out and that I wouldn't be able to complete it. I worked on calming myself and focusing on just what I needed to do. I was confident that I knew the rank requirements, so I focused on that.
Three of the four guys who tested for 7th kyu also tested for 6th -- Zach was too new to test for two ranks. I took ukemi for Robert for part of his sixth kyu test. He did very well with shomenuchi kokyonage, katatetori shihonage, and katatori nikkyo. We switched ukes after that and I got a chance to rest while those three finished their 6th kyu test.
Then Rich and I were up for our 4th and 3rd kyu test. This had to have been the longest portion of the testing. It is difficult to summarize a test that lasted close to 45 minutes (including a short break). Typically, I did pretty well with the kihon waza, and standard exercises. I occasionally drew a blank when sensei asked for variations, but was always ready to figure something out.
During my test, my injured shoulder started to hurt and sensei had me stop taking ukemi. This had the effect of speeding the test up a bit as Rich and I no longer had to take ukemi for the techniques we were testing. The problem is my right rotator cuff, so slapping the mat hurts on one side, rolling hurts a bit on the right side, and being thrown in a rotary manner hurts too. I later explained to sensei that the pain in somewhat cumulative -- that is, I was fine for about two hours of training, but after that it started to hurt too much.
Still, the test went on, and I got more fatigued due to the heat and my exertions. Halfway through the 3rd kyu test, sensei stopped and had us take a short break for water. I spent the rest of the test having to pee. :--/ I very clearly remember the test, but a few things really stand out. I found I didn't have to think much about the techniques -- or maybe I was only thinking about the techniques. Either way, I was thinking a lot less than I normally do when training.
I got a couple of corrections from sensei during the test, but they were due to sloppiness on my part from fatigue, and not from lack of knowledge of the technique. I had a funny thing happen on ushirotekubitori kokyunage. I did well with the kihon version, but when I tried the stepping backwards variation, I messed it up. I tried one more time, it didn't work, and sensei said something about showing him a variation that worked. I ended up pulling from the deep, deep recesses of . . . somewhere . . . a variation that was a lot like sokomen irimi nage, but still enough like a kokyo nage to pass muster. I was even able to replicate that variation a couple of times.
The suwari waza portion of the test went well, and quickly. Then I got a quick rest while Rich did jiyu waza. My rest was short, however, and I had to do jiyu waza too. I felt pretty good about it and it went well. Our sensei accelerates the test requirements a bit by giving us the 2nd kyu jiyu waza requirements for 3rd kyu.
With that, Rich and I were done with our tests and Aaron was up for 2nd kyu. I sat out for most of his test, but jumped in at the end for two man randori with Rich as the other uke.
All told, it was a good experience and very good for the dojo. In the end, I felt that it wasn't really my test, but our test. I felt deep gratification for my ukes and I hope I gave my nages good ukemi. I definitely need to increase my aerobic endurance, and I really need to concentrate on being healthy and avoiding/treating injuries. I feel as though I handled my nervousness pretty well, but I was truly surprised at how nervous I really was. In the end, I keep learning the same lesson that mental preparation and a good attitude are at least as important as the physical preparation of knowing the techniques.