Last night I passed the test for my green belt in Chinese Kenpo! I needed to learn 20 self-defense techniques and 8 kata, which are longer display forms, often incorporating some of the self-defense techniques. I started learning kenpo in November 2008 at Tracy's Karate.
Green belt is the last of the "coloured" belts, the fourth of eight (where the eighth is black), the last intermediate level belt, and the last test where I can have friends and family come and watch. I felt really lucky to have my husband Paul and two good friends watching this test. My next test will be for 3rd degree brown belt, which is the first advanced level belt, and it is a much harder test. Tonight when I go to group class and sparring class I'll be wearing my new belt and there will be a new photo on the studio wall in the green belt section.
Learning karate has greatly improved my balance and endurance. I feel safe knowing I can defend myself from punches, kicks, grabs and holds. And it is so much fun! I wouldn't have kept at it this long if I didn't have fun. Tracy's Karate has a system of private one-on-one lessons, a half hour a week of your instructors undivided attention, and group classes, where two to fifteen students all work at once. I also go to a sparring class where you can learn how to spar safely by fighting black belts, instructors, and other students in one to two minute rounds. Sparring is done with foam-padded boots, shin guards, gloves, and a helmet, and a mouthguard. Two minutes can feel like forever in the sparring ring.
I'm constantly surprised that I can do this. I was the one picked last at school for sports and I was never athletic. Yet I'm managing over three hours of intense exercise every week and loving it.