The shihan (master instructor) at my karate dojo promoted me to san ju ichi kyu this evening (white belt, four yellow stripes), and told me that I am ready to test for san ju kyu (yellow belt) next Saturday. Our ranking system has 35 kyu ranks — which are the ranks below black belt arranged in groups of five according to color — and I have been promoted to 31st in preparation for 30th. After attaining a yellow belt, the proper schedule is to increase one kyu rank each month until, at ichi kyu (first kyu), a student is ready to test for the black belt. The sequence is white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, black — and it takes a disciplined student about three years to go from white to black, with formal testing every five kyu (changes in belt color).
I am a bit surprised with myself at the degree to which I have really engaged with my martial-arts study. I’m spending about four nights per week at the dojo, usually followed by a trip to the gym to run on the treadmills. I have never been healthier in my life! Walking into East West Karate was something of a whimsical decision, but I’m glad I did it, and I’m in it for the long haul.