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Arnis de Mano White Sash Test

by Tara

Tyler and I just tested for the first level of Arnis de Mano, white sash. This was unlike any white-belt test I’ve 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, I’m 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 aren’t 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 isn’t any new territory to discover. Everything’s 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 don’t 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 we’ve 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 wouldn’t 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 I’m 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 we’re 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. We’ll be thinking of you.

Much love to Maestro Jim, Maestro Kurt, and all of our classmates!

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wow this is awesome, ill be checking this once in a while to see how its going! good luck!
Posted by Evo FX on March 15th, 2009 at 12:51 AM
Thanks! We appreciate the support!
Posted by Tara on March 15th, 2009 at 4:02 PM
Tara, you both EARNED your sashes! I was blown away by how far you have come along since you started Arnis.

The great thing about your travels is that you will have each other to rely upon should negative situations arise. And with the additional skills you've gained from Arnis, I know that you will be ok.

I also think you guys will be pleasantly surprised when you get to class tonight! See you then!

Posted by David on March 17th, 2009 at 7:42 AM
Thanks Dave! We have an 8-9 hour drive ahead of us (coming back from visiting Tara's family in IL) but we'll be there!
Posted by Tyler on March 17th, 2009 at 9:08 AM
Thank you, Dave!
Posted by Tara on March 18th, 2009 at 11:19 PM
I'm really pleased that my son and daughter-in-law have done this before their trip.
I feel much more relaxed about their safety....even if I my fear of roadside cannibals was probably unfounded...LOVE DAD!
Posted by Tony on March 19th, 2009 at 8:53 AM
Tyler and Tara have been the dream any instructor would want. They took everything that we taught them, & practised and worked from one class to the next. Anyone can say "practise makes pefect," but truely, perfect practise makes one understand the true meaning of "the way." great luck to both of you on your trip. Thank you for all your hard work and determination.
Posted by Schtick on March 19th, 2009 at 10:33 PM