Tyler and I just tested for the first level of Arnis de Mano, white sash. This was unlike any white-belt test Ive seen or participated in. For starters, it was hard. It really was a test of my strength and character. After an already long and overwhelming day at work, Im just proud I made it through the whole test without crumpling up in a ball and bursting into tears.
I worked hard, and I feel proud and accomplished knowing that I actually earned my white sash. Mostly though, I am humbled by how much I still have to learn, and how far I still have to go. According to Maestro Jim there arent any maestras (female Arnis masters), and I find it exciting to add becoming one of the first maestras to my list of goals.
Sometimes it feels like there isnt any new territory to discover. Everythings been mapped, discovered, recorded, and accomplished. Just the thought of being one of the first maestras captures my imagination and is truly inspiring. It makes me work harder, and it makes me go practice when I just dont feel like it.
I feel deeply honored to be a part of such a wonderful group of people. We work together, encourage each other, and keep the spirit of Arnis de Mano alive.
Back to the test. Not only did we demonstrate everything weve learned so far (a surprisingly large amount), but we also engaged in full-contact boxing and stick sparring. Full-contact fighting is pretty high up there in the category of things I would really rather not do. In Arnis classes, we hit each other and it's fine but this was real fighting (though we had protective gear); before tonight I'd never experienced anything like it.
I spent years earning a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but I never felt as capable as I do now. I had never fought anyone, I had never worn a mouth guard and I never actually hit anyone for real. I certainly never got hit for real! I could kick really high and make my forms look really good, but the fact of the matter is that I wouldnt actually have been able to defend myself if I had to. Now, though, after only a couple months of Arnis, I know I could defend myself, at least enough to find a way to escape and do some damage in the process. I know what it feels like to get hit, and Im not afraid of it anymore.
I feel deeply honored to be a part of such a wonderful group of people. We work together, encourage each other, and keep the spirit of Arnis de Mano alive. I really feel that were a part of something truly special. I was teary and deeply touched when Maestro Jim and (soon to be) Maestro Kurt were blessing our vests and sashes. I am going to miss them and our whole class so much. Even though Tyler and I are leaving for a very long time, I feel so rooted in Arnis, and in this particular class. Jim and Kurt will always be our Maestros, and we will always be their students.
To everyone in our class, thank you for being our team-mates! Thank you for challenging us and helping us grow. You all bring so much to class, and I love how you each contribute your own unique presence and strength. Good luck on your tests tomorrow, everybody. Well be thinking of you.
Much love to Maestro Jim, Maestro Kurt, and all of our classmates!