One Stripe Closer

One Stripe Closer

A Story by RachelReaper
"

little memoir I wrote about getting my first stripe in karate

"

One Stripe Closer

               My heart was beating out of my chest and violently hammering against my ribcage.

               But for you to understand, let me first paint the picture for you. I'm the newbie. The rookie. I've been the lowest-ranked no-stripe white belt at my karate dojo for almost a month and I've just been given a chance to prove myself. My two closest friends in the dojo are watching, and speculating my every move are three black belts. And one of them was the Master Sensei.

                Once a month we're allowed to try for a new stripe or even a new belt on testing day, to advance. It works this way, when you sign up, you automatically become the lowest rank, a white belt. Then you strive to become a gold belt, then a green belt, then a purple, then a brown, and finally you become a Sensei if you can make it to black belt status. For the six colors, there are four stripes on each belt you need before you can make it to the next color. So if you were a white belt (like me), you need four gold stripes on your white belt before you can advance to gold belt. As this was my first test, I currently had no stripes like my two friends Ethan and Ali who had signed up shortly after I did.

               I bow low to each Sensei, and one of them instructs, "Perform a right Seiken." A Seiken is a forearm punch, so when I step into kiba Dachi (horse stance), I try to put as much power into that punch as possible.

               The three black belts comment quietly to themselves while I stand. A bead of sweat was about to trickle into my eye, but I knew better than to get out of stance to wipe it away.

               I could see myself in the huge mirror that covers the entire front wall. It reflected my back straight, my knees bent, my eyes foreword, and my right arm extended into a punch. My solid black gi hung loosely on me, and my white belt was knotted tightly around my waist.

               "Left Fumi Komi." They suddenly say, and I hesitate for a second before I remember what Sensei Jason had taught me. To lift your foot high over you knee, drive it down to your right, bring it back up, stomp to your left, back up, and stomp straight down with your heel. Fumi Komi had always reminded me of a kind of dance move, but the purpose of it was to immobilize someone if they were attacking you and you had managed to get them on the ground.

               Very handy move to know, though I pray I never need to use it.

               I can feel Ethan and Ali's blue eyes staring right through me as I stand up there, nerve-wracked. Ali tested before I raised my hand to go, and the Sensei's don't tell us how we did until the very end. Further prolonging my anxiety.

               After giving it my best shot at a Ushiro Ukemi (backward roll), an Age Uke (rising block), and finally a Gedan Bari Uke (downward black) with as much force as I could give, one of the black belts nodded towards me and said, "You may leave now." Emotionless. Not wanting to give away if I had succeeded or not.

               I said nothing, but simply bowed to each of the three in turn before flitting back to my spot beside Ali at the end of the huge training mat while Ethan got up to go test.

               There were so many things I knew both of us wanted to discuss about how we did and how we felt and how Ethan was doing up there, but we held our tongues. We weren't supposed to talk while someone else was being tested and neither Ali, nor I was willing to risk our first stripe.

               After Ethan bowed out, the Master Sensei sounded the dong at the front of the room that signified the end of class. All of us gathered in formation. Black belts first and we white belts very last.

               The Sensei went over all of the announcements and notices for the dojo, but I'm ashamed to admit I barely heard a word he said. Ethan and I exchanged a glance, both of us silently wondering, "Did we make it?" But right at the end, the Sensei said, "And I'd like to congratulate Rachel, Ali, and Ethan for passing their first test for their first stripe."

               A breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding escaped my lips when everyone applauded us and I felt my whole self smile. A smile that matched both Ethan and Ali's.

               It seemed as though everyone in the dojo shook our hands after the final class bow, saying their own congratulations with approval. Ethan, Ali, and I were then called into the back room where new belts, badges, certificates, gis, and of course stripes were held. This was also the most heavily decorated room having a huge red divider with a prowling snow tiger, and pictures of waterfalls and Japanese symbols hung from the walls. Being there from the first time I had gotten my gi and my white belt, I felt like I had... done something. Accomplished something. Because I wasn't the lowest rank possible anymore.

               A shiny golden stripe was placed on the end of Ali's, then Ethan's, and lastly my belt. I remember the Master Sensei saying, "One of many."

               I smiled.

               After all of the training I put into the right form, my punches, blocks, kicks, and rolls, I had earned my right to a higher status. That meant I was one step closer to becoming a black belt. One step closer to fulfilling a dream, an aspiration. And one step closer to working that much harder.

               Because if I've learned anything, it's that if your one step closer, the stakes become higher and higher.

                

© 2012 RachelReaper


Author's Note

RachelReaper
true story :) Please review, all of your thoughts are very much appreciated.
Blood and kisses,
-Rachel Reaper

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Reviews

You have a good way of incorporating the explanation or description of what you are talking about right in to the story, such as the different martial arts terminology here. That is not always easy to do and can be clunky and distracting if done the wrong way. Nice.

I always like being drawn in to a piece despite the subject matter not being familiar or particularly intriguing to me. I quite enjoyed this.

Posted 8 Years Ago


RachelReaper

8 Years Ago

thank you!
Rachel, you breathe life into your stories! Technically, your grammar is good, the flow is perfect, and your word choice puts the reader right into the dojo, holding breath with you, anticipating the results. Excellent work!

Posted 8 Years Ago


RachelReaper

8 Years Ago

thank you so much! That meant a lot to me
Very well done. Though, I must say, your belt system is slightly different then ours. We accumulate, in order, white, orange, yellow, blue, green, purple, brown, then black. Of course, then you are allowed to achieve degrees on your black belt. Currently in Shotokan karate, I stand as a purple belt with a bit of tournament and weapons training in my practice. From one student to another, I wish you the best of luck on gaining your future belts.

Posted 8 Years Ago


RachelReaper

8 Years Ago

thank you, and of course I wish the same to you.
Ethale Captor

8 Years Ago

No problem, and thank you as well.
Congratulations on getting your first stripe Rachel! Such a great little memoir of something I know means a lot to you. Such great description of your feelings and your friends and the area around you. I really like the title too. I had no clue what it was going to be about until I read it. :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


RachelReaper

8 Years Ago

:D
I wanted to do martial arts as a lad but my parents thought it was a bad idea.(My poem "confessions of a bully" is a big hint to their rational for that.) There was only one school in my town that taught a form and that was Taekwondo. I never did take it. I joined the Marine Corps instead. Great Story Rachel

Posted 8 Years Ago


RachelReaper

8 Years Ago

thank you for commenting! and there are people in my adult class of all ages who sign on all the tim.. read more
It's cool, I do taekwondo, totally I can totally relate to this

Posted 8 Years Ago


Awesome!! Keep with it! I practice martial arts too ( kung fu) and it's amazing for mind and body... Don't ever stop :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


RachelReaper

8 Years Ago

i surely won't :) I practice goshen jutsu.
Very interesting story!
Congratulations! :)


Posted 8 Years Ago


RachelReaper

8 Years Ago

thank you :)

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Added on December 1, 2012
Last Updated on December 1, 2012

Author

RachelReaper
RachelReaper

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Hey!!!!! My name is Rachel, and my unofficial last name is Reaper. I am 14 years old. Blood and kisses to all who review my work, I appreciate it so much and couldn't express to you how much it means .. more..

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