Saturday was a lot of fun. Sensei Johnson is my Sensei's first black belt, and who runs his own dojo about 90 minutes from here. Saturday he had his first green belt grading, and Sensei and I went down to act as judges and testers. This was my first stint acting as a judge outside of my home dojo, and it was an interesting experience.
First and foremost, it was very weird having a bunch of people act like I was somebody important. We're a tiny, informal dojo, and I'm definitely not used to having people bow to me aside from just bowing in and out of class. My friend Beth, who's a chaplain, compared it to what happened to her the first time she went to work after being ordained - suddenly she was someone to be deferred to, and it threw her for a while.
The test itself went very well. Sensei Johnson's student was definitely nervous and tense, but exceptionally well prepared. Sensei had been concerned that the test requirements were too much for a green belt test, but they turned out to be about perfect for this candidate, and Sensei Johnson himself commented that he probably needed to tone them down a notch or two before finalizing them as the general green belt requirements. (6'2" adults with significant prior martial arts experience probably shouldn't be your measuring line for all students!) His kata were excellent, though the nervousness was definitely showing in tenseness which was slowing down some techniques. His knowledge levels were also excellent, which was good to see - so many big, strong guys are so focused on the physical that they barely notice the knowledge end of things. Breaking went smoothly, though the break that was listed as a shuto was much closer to a shotai.
Then it was on to sparring. Sensei Johnson put me up first - I'll have to remember to thank him for that! Stepping up to spar this guy who's so much bigger than I am, when I've never seen him spar before was a definite gulp moment, but he had excellent control - if anything he was nervous to hit me hard enough. I held up my end well, which was also a point of concern, since I get so little sparring practice these days (Sensei and Sensei D are both out of commission right now, and Sensei's daughter has gotten busy again, so it me and Ian, and Ian and me, and me and Ian...). I managed to stay mostly inside of his kicks, and he wasn't used to dealing with small people at arm's length going for his ribs, so I definitely got my licks in. In his second fight, he was hitting Sensei Johnson a lot harder than he was hitting me, about which I am half happy, and half disappointed. I'm just as glad not to be all bruised up today, but I never really mind it in a good cause, and it's been a long time since I've had to go all out against somebody new.
So congratulations to Nate, and may he wear his new, and well-deserved green belt in health and happiness.