Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Test Anxiety

Last night I shared with all of you that I had received permission to test for white belt and my dobok when I felt ready. I was confident when answering Anthony's questions yesterday, but when I woke up this morning, my excitement had waned a bit and I realized I was unsure.

Part of it is that no one can make me 100 percent aware of how the test works. What I mean is, Sensei can't (and shouldn't) tell me what I will be tested on and in what order. Am I really ready for anything? The other problem I'm facing is that my training is so  different from that of my classmates. Most of their work is unarmed, while I am being trained to fight with a cane. But then again, they have to learn and properly execute kicks and I don't, so I guess it balances out. I'm assuming that because I train with a weapon at times, I will need to be prepared to demonstrate those skills when I test.

What it really comes down to is that I need to stop doubting myself. I need to stop selling myself short to others as well. Sensei told me last night that the time I was allowed to spend watching Spike was actually a test of sorts, to see if I was ready to attempt the test for my white belt. Part of any student's job at Equa Do is to take those who are less experienced than they are, and help them to learn. By managing to keep control of Spike I showed that I can keep abreast of a situation and correct improper behavior or technique. Also, several of the younger students kept asking me to either give them Spike's leash or allow the leash to drop altogether. I gently refused each time, telling them Master Eric had specifically asked for my assistance.  This showed Master Eric that I can follow instructions, and also that I know my duty. Had I let Spike run, he would have headed straight for the training area to see all the people, and possibly gotten hurt. This is the same reason I did not take Spike outside where he might have been able to pull me into the street. I would need to place similar limits on what inexperienced students can attempt during training, or at least enforce the ones the other instructors set.

When Sensei and I originally talked about when I would test for my white belt, he said that I would probably need to wait until the testing day after this one. However last night, he told me what had changed. Firstly he said that I was one of the faster learners in my class and I pick up new skills quickly. When corrected, I only need to be shown once or twice before the correct technique is routinely implemented. Secondly, I show up for class on time or early, dressed appropriately, and ready to work. Dojang ettiquite is always observed, from my attire, to respect for my training space, to how I address my instructors. I very rarely take breaks during class, preferring to shake off any discomfort and continue to work. Anything I am given to practice at home is always done, sometimes a little overdone. This has shown Sensei, Anthony, Master Eric and Master Markus that I am dedicated, though I manage to enjoy myself as well.

Even more importantly, I can not only learn and perform techniques well, but I am able to articulate them to others when needed. That has been evidenced both by this blog, and the work I have done with Chad, whether at the school or in private. This is the mark of someone who may one day become an instructor, and Sensei said because of our relationship, and the fact that he is my teacher, I will more than likely end up working with him.

I think right now what is making me afraid is that this is something I want so badly. I'm afraid I'll convince myself that I'm ready just to take the chance and fail. And I'm afraid of disappointing so many people that I love and care about at once. What would Master Eric, or Anthony, Miss Linda, Master Markus, or even Sensei think, if I blew it on some small mistake?

The rational side of me says that won't happen. And I know that. But my parents would have seen a failure at something like this as a reason I couldn't continue to participate in the classes. That's what they did to me with wheelchair basketball. I only played in one game and we lost so horribly that my parents said they couldn't see me getting any better and for as far as they had to drive to get to practice it wasn't worth the effort on their part. And given the expensive testing fee I'm afraid to spend the money if there is even a chance I might fail.

Its clear that I have a bit more soul searching to do. I'm going to wait another week, and as long as next week goes well I will submit the form for permission to test to Anthony. I know Anthony and Sensei, not to mention Master Eric, would not be supportive of me testing if it were not the right step to take.



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