We've come up with the perfect gift for Sensei. He is eligeable for his go-dan (recieved his notification about two months ago), but the process to get his belt costs a couple of hundred dollars and he can not afford it. Really can not afford it. As poor as we currently are, we're rolling in the dough comparatively speaking, because our problem is the recent excessive outgo, rather than sheer lack of income. Left to himself and his own income, Sensei would never get that next rank, since even if he had the money, he'd undoubtably find a better use for it - something for his family, or something for his students.
So we're all contributing to get together the money to get him his go-dan for Christmas. This involves some serious sneaking around. We have to find out the exact amount (getting ahold of some of the other upper-level black belts to find this out), and contact Master Shimabuku in Okinawa to see if we can do it direct, or if we just have to give Sensei the money and sit on him to make sure he uses it for his promotion.
I feel all conspiratorial :-D
In other news, both of our brown belts have left recently. One joined the Army, the other had just recently returned after a long hiatus, and now has left again for reasons unknown (at least to me). I assume she talked to Sensei about it since a) he seems quite clear that she's not going to around regularly, and b) he's not particularly upset about it, which he definitely was when she quit the first time and didn't talk to him about it. Sensei will forgive about anything except leaving him out of the loop.
As a result of this, Sensei told me straight out the other night, that I will probably be his first black belt. This feels a bit weird. At the moment I'm only a fairly recent green. I still have purple, brown 1, and brown 2 to go through. Plus I'm not the senior student, I'm third in seniority. I have to agree with his assessment, our most senior student is only 12, so isn't eligeable for black for four more years, while the #2 senior student is a practicing physician with three small kids. Her practice time is limited, so her progression through the ranks tends to be slow. She was an orange belt when I joined, now we're both greens, with me about a month behind her in seniority.
Still it feels awkward to be the subject of Sensei's somewhat ambitious regard. He's been teaching for about eight years, he's itching to have a black belt of his own, and would have had several by now but for circumstances. I have no idea what it would be like to be a black belt under him, I'd be breaking in the position, which also means I'd be setting all the precedents. Ground-breaking is not generally my preferred occupation.
On the other hand, I have between 18 months and 2 years at a minimum before I'm ready to test for black. I suppose I shouldn't get ahead of myself.
Most black belt candidates (that I've talked to anyway) feel unready. I guess I just get to feel that way somewhat longer than most.