A BLACK BELT GRADING      
 
The day
A black belt grading is always a very special event.
 
It has been said in the past that for every one thousand students who start training in the art of karate, regardless of their style, only one student out of those thousand will train long enough, and hard enough, to finally obtain a black belt.
 
One in a thousand.
 
Only those students who do walk down that road, will ever truly appreciate the high level of dedication and self sacrifice that is necessary to finally reach the threshold of a black belt grading and take the test, let alone pass it.
 
They alone know the "way".
 
This poem I wrote some years ago and I dedicate to all those students no matter where they are who have walked this road.
"THE GRADING"
 
The test would last just hours
Though their training spanned the years,
Could those who watched appreciate
Their hope - their pride - their fears,
 
To test they're bodies and their minds
For hours they must drill,
Knowing that the sweat that flows
Is governed by their will,
 
Success is what their training breeds
It is written in their creed,
And memories of their classes past
Are dreams on which they feed,
 
The seconds tick, the minutes pass
The hours seem like years,
Their Sensei is not satisfied
"Again" rings in their ears,
 
Basics now - their legs cry out
Each step a painful stance,
Kata next - "mo ichi do"
As if they're in a trance,
 
Some glance at those they struggle with
Beneath this summer sun,
They're look it says - without your help
I never could have won,
 
The rank and title that they seek
They claim through years of strife,
More than friends they're bonded now
For all their earthly life,
 
For Shotokan is what they do
Karate is their art,
The lessons that their Sensei taught
Are planted in their heart,
 
He asked - they gave - a fair exchange
He is a master of this cast,
Who promised them a memory
For all their life to last,
 
And when their gradings over
A sweet silence fills the air,
Four mute walls a testament
To what they had to bear,
 
The lights are off the door is locked
To open once again,
When others seek to follow them
And walk this road of pain,
 
Now age may dull their memory
Their youth God will take back,
But forever they are Sempai's now
Who've earned their belt of black.
 
This poem was written by
Sensei Peter Lindsay, Go Dan (FSKA)