Yeah….

I have Arab female friends, female friends who are Arab……..whichever……….and when you hear an Arab woman, someone who has grown up in Damascus or Riyadh or Dubai talk about what it’s like to be a woman back home and what the men are like and then a certain very silly German woman throws open Europe’s borders to 1.5 million Arabs 80% of which are men………Yeah you don’t look on this favorably.

When you’ve been with an Arab woman and you’re drinking tea and her phone is ringing literally every five minutes because the three guys that she met yesterday at the University’s Arab society are now constantly calling her and when you’ve seen this enough to know that this will go on for weeks and that they’ll stalk her around campus and that they are not quite right in the head and you hear people getting angry because someone very sensibly said that maybe these people are not the best fit for Western society you’re like, “And how many Arab women do you know?”.

When one of your female friends who is Arab is also a Christian and you hear how Christians are treated in Damascus and you realise that someone thinks it’s a good idea to import these people who abuse Christians into the Christian west you also realise that whoever thinks that this is a good idea is interculturally incompetent, ignorant and probably has an IQ no greater than their European shoe size.

If you say to me, “Let’s let in the women and children” alright. “Let’s let in the Christians” alright, fine. “Let’s let in Muslim men” umm, no.

W00t!

Cold aside, I think we may have a touch of mania/hypomania/whatever the fuck. Or I could just be unusually optimistic. I don’t feel the need to attempt, hopefully unsuccessfully, to procreate with nearly everything of the species Homo sapiens sapiens possessing, as far as is detectable to the eye, functioning ovaries which would be indicative of a lack of said mental health condition.

I know what you’re thinking: the above, it’s stylistics, it’s overly wordy and florid nature, it’s loquaciousness, it’s sesquipedalian form, would indicate the opposite conclusion.

Elite.

Fucking. Ow. I got about five hours sleep, maybe about four actually. Was up at eight, on the mat at ten, off at twelve. Then we had a meeting at which I had a certain sense that I have arrived because today was an instructor’s course; the kind of thing where instructors get together to basically teach teaching and critique each other.

Normally I avoid these things like the plague because, to be honest, I might be a qualified instructor but I don’t really teach so there doesn’t seem to be much point in me going. This time, though, I basically went to do some strategic arse kissing for my grading and squeeze in more training hours with people more senior than myself.

Only something has changed: we’re now an independent association which means that there aren’t twenty or thirty instructors and hopeful instructors there are more like eight and I’m apparently one of them and I’m three weeks away from shodan. So suddenly I find myself in a reasonably senior position. Senior enough that even the principle of the association asks for my input on some things which strictly speaking are above my grade, but then I do have fourteen years of experience to draw on. If you put it like that……….

So I’m thinking that this is something that I can actually contribute to and so I want to get down to more instructor’s courses. I can see this being somewhere where I can really make my mark.

Everything is so amazingly positive right now. I’m sitting here in quite a lot of pain, I’m exhausted but I feel so great. I walk into the dojo and there are these guys who have been training for decades; they’re 4th, 5th, 6th dans and they’re so amazingly upbeat and positive about my grading. They’re happy to see me, they’re enthusiastic and laid back, there’s nothing pretentious about them and they’re all going out of their way to help me and encourage me and it feels amazing. I haven’t felt this way about training in years.

To be quite honest I feel fucking badass and properly fucking elite. I feel like one of the big boys. I go on instructor’s courses, I get asked my opinion, I take dan grade, I survive mock gradings that would kill most people. My peer group are 5th and 6th dans. I’m elite. A lot of this is probably conceit, but it’s healthy conceit as I see it. I feel like I’ve got something back that I haven’t had for years. I’m going to get this dan grade and all the shit that happened at first kyu will be erased.

I wonder is this is like the whole BDSM thing: pain makes the body release endorphins and so you feel epic. Also the lack of sleep is probably inducing mild hypomania. I’m going to be walking on the mat with this in my head. I feel like I can do anything, achieve anything, push myself as hard as I need to. I feel unstoppable.

 

Readiness.

I feel really focused. Really powerful. I think I can do this. Not just the grading, but that’s the start. I’ve got some hard slog ahead of me and I’m looking forward to the challenge. Not to get philosophical but “one must imagine Sisyphus happy”. It’s hacking it that is the reward. If you can do it then you’re badass.

If you can just keep going then you’re badass. Success or failure are irrelevant, it’s the work, it’s being able to walk away after putting the effort in, it’s going one more technique when the body is screaming at you to stop that counts because then you’re that guy that toughs it out.

It’s interesting going through this mental process. I can feel and see this change in my psychology and this is something new, this is something that I don’t remember feeling before. It’s a quiet confidence, a solidity. Dare I say it, it’s fudoshin. It’s almost like the feeling I used to get before a grading or a big paintball game but, more solid, calmer, more grounded. I feel ready and not just about the grading but all of life.

Last night has really had an impact on me. I can do dan grade. I can really do it and I can build off that because if I can slog it out, fight my mind when it wants to give up, push my body when it wants to collapse then I can push myself anywhere else I need to. Now I want it, I want to be on that edge, I want to be pushing myself further than I’ve been before. I want to get into the fight and give it my all.

 

Mock Grading.

So I went training tonight. It wasn’t planned. My instructor’s instructor has a class on a Wednesday night albeit in another town and occasionally we go over there. Well, my instructor goes there all the time but some of us students go over there too on occasion.

So someone was going over and offering anyone who wanted to go a lift. Well YT has a grading, a dan grading, in three weeks so my arse needs as much training as it can get, plus my instructor’s instructor is the head of our association and will be on the grading panel so getting his input is slightly important.

Oh.My.God did I think I was going to die. Sensei has had me training with weights on and using a suburito   for a few weeks basically to exhaust me before any training actually starts. Then he belts me up and down the mat just to make sure I’m exhausted and I mean exhausted. As in struggling to get up off the floor.

In this state I found myself, with another guy going for black belt, in a mock dan grading. This lasts a mere thirty to forty-five minutes. Suwari waza, Hanmi-handachi waza, Tachi-waza………….everything. I was really struggling nearly all the time because I was exhausted before I’d even started.

Apparently, though, I did pretty good in the eyes of all the people watching and I’m actually starting to feel confident and positive about the whole thing. I feel like if I can get through a mock grading while knackered without any technical complaints then maybe I can get through an actual grading. Also I’m starting to value it; I’m starting to think that actually this might be worth doing. I can see passing it as giving me a confidence boost.

Another thing is that I’m senior student in my own dojo; there’s no one higher ranked than me, but when I go and train elsewhere I’m in a bigger pond and a lot of this pond are guys I’ve trained with for over a decade and I’m sort of thinking that maybe it’s time to take my place among the yudansha, maybe I belong with the big boys so to speak. I’m already at a point where the head of the association will grab me on a course and tell me to go and sort someone out and that someone often outranks me, so maybe I’ve kind of earned this and it’s time to collect?

That said I think I’m settling back into my view that wearing a black belt really isn’t for me. I’ll buy one, but I think if and when I pass shodan I’m just going to go with a blue hakama and stick to my white belt. I still find this attitude that I have shocking. In Aikido if you continue to wear a white belt even when you’re dan grade it’s taken as a sign of humility and shoshin. People who fail gradings, especially if it’s a spectacular fail, occasionally put a white belt back on as a way of acknowledging their need to go back and relearn things. It’s quite odd for me to do something humble and even odder for me to be so attached to the idea. I kind of wonder if on some level I’m trying to show off and the worrying thing is that I don’t think that I am.