New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


At karate, now is one of two times a year that black belt promotion is held (Spring and Fall).

A promotion, as I've mentioned before, is the test you take to move up in belt rank. At my dojo, promotions for colored belt students are held once a month or so. Colored belt ranks are called kyu ranks, and go in descending order from tenth kyu to first kyu.

Different martial arts schools have different sequences of belt color, but generally a beginning student will have a white belt, while a brown belt (or advanced brown belt, with a stripe) is usually the last one you get before going for your first black belt.

A black belt ranking is called a dan ranking, and it starts at first dan (shodan) and goes up to, well, it doesn't matter how high it goes. In the world there are martial arts teachers with tenth, eleventh, even thirteenth dan rankings. At a certain point, it doesn't matter except inside the individual school itself.

Now we have a group of advanced brown belt students going for their black belts, just like I was doing exactly one year ago. There are also higher ranking students going for promotion, including some fourth-degree black belts going to fifth-degree. I'm not really involved in that promotion but we are encouraged to come and help out with the first kyu to shodan promotion.

Tonight in place of our regular Wednesday black belt class we had the promotion for the shodan candidates. Kaicho led non-candidates, the people who weren't currently up for promotion, (like me, I'm good for at least another two years until my promotion for nidan, tons of new material to learn) in a quick group workout. We did a few katas. It was good to get the heart pumping.

Then the shodan candidates were led onto the dojo floor wearing blindfolds. They had been at Visions, a center for the visually impaired on 23rd Street, participating in our visually impaired program as part of their promotion. I remember it well, being led down the streets of New York City blindfolded is a scary thing, and then it becomes kind of transforming. The blind karate workout is interesting as well.

Now they were back at the dojo to take off their blindfolds (slowly) and participate in the rest of the evening's events. At this point I don't want to write in too much more detail about what went on at the promotion, it's a bit private and still ongoing (a month long) but they went through some tough stuff. It's a good group.

As I was transferring to the F-train at 14th Street I happened to see Luis, a guy from karate who happens to actually be in the visually impaired group, on the subway platform. I said hi and we rode the L train into Brooklyn together. Luis takes the L-train a few stops further into Brooklyn than I do. He just got his first black belt (shodan, remember?) in the Spring. He wants to be a bartender (and he doesn't drink).

I came straight home because I had a leftover pizza roll from Sal's in the fridge. Jenn's out to dinner with some friends.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoying the Blog. Hope you get to St Patrick's Day Parade on the 17th!

Des O'Dwyer

11:44 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I'm sorry I'll have to miss the parade, but I look forward to raising a glass of Guinness tonight to my heritage and my good Irish luck (that's you, shodan).

12:56 PM  

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