Meant to post this last night, but: Friday I had my first belt test, and yesterday I was presented with my new yellow belt. (Which really needs to go through the washing machine to be softened up; I could barely get it to hold its knot.)
I’m pleased, but it isn’t a huge achievement; people very rarely fail their tests for yellow, or so I am told. Since I did not fall over or accidentally punch one of the judges, I passed. It’s a nice mile-marker, though, and leaves me feeling energized for more. If I attend class regularly, I think I could be testing for orange at the beginning of February. Then blue, and then I think we start moving into the finer gradations of rank; I believe I have to go through blue-with-black-stripe before green (and green-with-white-stripe may intervene between those two). And you have to attend more classes between tests the higher you go, of course, so the rapid initial progress slows down eventually. But that rapid initial progress is nicely satisfying, and helps you feel like you’re getting somewhere.
Most importantly for me, this means I can practice kihon gata san without feeling presumptuous. Kihon gata ichi is the kata for the yellow belt test, and kihon gata ni for orange, but the two are all but identical, and doing them over and over again gets tedious. I’ll still work on both ichi and ni, of course, but at this point I’ll learn more about improving my form by doing things other than that same set of moves. I need to become more comfortable with the shorin-ryu style of movement in general, rather than just one limited example of it.
Now off to the library I go.