Last weekend I got my black belt after 4 years and 8 months of training. Funnily enough I felt coming up to the grading date that I wasn't quite ready; I was expecting to wait and train another 6 months or so to be where I thought I 'should' be. My club is quite small and the standard quite high (in my limited experience anyway) and it'd been 4 years since the last black belt promotion, so I felt quite a bit of "I'm not worthy" pressure going into it. When I was a white belt I wanted a black belt of course, but when it actually came time I wasn't sure if I wanted it! But anyway, I'm not complaining now, it feels great to have gotten it.
The grading itself was tough, as expected, but not that much different from a typical 2hr training session, just more intense and less breaks! Warmup was followed by Kihon and Kata, then Kumite against other black belts once we were all nice and tired. My club is Shotokan style and I had to perform the 5 Heians, Tekki Shodan, Bassai Dai, Kanku Dai, Jion, Jitte and Empi, but in random order. Our Kumite is continuous point sparring, so score a point and then keep going rather than re-setting, wearing hand and feet protectors, going for hard to the body and good control to the head.
The experience has changed my outlook somewhat in that I think I was largely looking out for my own goals until now, but now I want to try and give back to the club and help assist more with teaching etc. I train Judo also, so I'm keen to try and incorporate that into class somehow. Basic ashi-waza and good break-fall technique is indispensible imho, so I want to get more of that into class, as well as more Bunkai applications of course!
Anyway, enough of my rambling. Just felt like sharing. Oss!