Last night, I talked with my sensei about what's next after getting my black belt.
I started off by telling him I wished he had seen me grappling at the black belt test (he was judging students in a different ring). I wanted him to see because I enjoyed it and did well... and because I had a feeling he wasn't very confident in my grappling abilities before the test.
His response: He had been more confident in my grappling skill than I was.
I was very surprised. But given how hard I can be on myself--and how nervous I was about grappling before the test--it made sense. After all, he wouldn't have sent me to the test if he didn't expect me to pass.
I told him I want to cut back a bit on training for a stretch to give more time to my family, and he said, that's fine, I earned it.
But I want to continue to learn. What's next?
Next is the second degree. But he said not to rush. In our school, there is a deliberate process that has to be followed to earn higher degrees to the black belt, and it can easily take two or three years. I expressed concern at how tough the ring is where candidates for higher degrees compete at the test; he said I would have the skills for it by the time I went.
We talked about my interest in sprinting for conditioning and leg strength. He said it's a great idea, but I should ideally do it at least a couple of times a week.
I said I could only picture one day a week to sprint, Sunday, because during the week I rise at 5:45 AM for work, and return home about 7 PM. And on Saturday, I take a couple of hours of martial arts classes, so I clearly can't sprint that day.
His response: Why not sprint early on Saturday? Just leave several hours between sprinting and martial arts class.
He said that in preparation for tournaments, he would work out, run or train three times daily, day after day.
Hmm, I thought. Well, I'm 52 and he's not.
But I won't be doing it every day, and I won't be doing three workouts in a day. I can try a double workout once a week and see how it goes. As Hack Shaft says, eventually the muscles adjust.
Tomorrow is Saturday, the first Saturday of the rest of my life, and I'll give it a try.
One sign that I've taken the black belt as a beginning, not an end: I expected that after the test, my weight would rise somewhat. Instead, it's continuing a slow decline.