John’s black belt test started at about 2:00pm and went until about 5:00pm. He showed up and got changed while I got settled and tested the light with the camera. There were about 6 black belts there, one brown, two purples, two oranges and a white. One we got there, John calmed down, but my stomach was flipping around. On the way there he’d said “There’s really only three ways I can fail this test. If I pass out, if I give up, or if I get pinned.” The test got started after warm-ups, but instead of working through less-advanced techniques into more difficult ones, they started him off with the tough ones first. They worked him through all kinds of throws, then a kata, then decided that a randori would be good. A randori (for us laypeople) is where more than one person comes at you, and you need to keep them from attacking you all at once. This is most often accomplished by throwing the attackers into themselves.Anyway, he randori’d with three lower belts, then two blacks. After another kata and some more throws, they put all 12 people up there with him. I was so nervous I bit off all my fingernails. If he was going to get pinned, that was going to be it. I had to get up and leave, actually, I was so nervous. After that was done, more throws, then a blind randori. He was exhausted by the end of it, and I was shaking.
The black-belts went back to the office to discuss while the rest of us talked and John rested. The black-belts were closeted for a good 15 minutes, then came back out. Sensei faced John and said “So… when would be a good time for a re-test?” My heart just sank, and I almost cried right there. John pandered a little about it, then Sensei asked him to stand up and remove his belt. I thought “Oh, it was a joke! They really are going to give him his black” John stood there with no belt on, but Sensei didn’t immediately produce the black and I thought “Oh, shit… John failed so badly they’re taking his belt and kicking him out of the school!” I really DID tear up then, but then Sensei pulls John’s black out of his gi. He’d had it in there the whole time! I was so relieved. I cried as he put the black on John and tied it for him for the first time. It even had his name embroidered on it. Evereyone congratulated him, then bowed out. I wasn’t allowed to be on the mat, so I had to content myself with a flying hug once he got off the mat.
We all went out for dinner, then John came home and crashed. I was too worked up to sleep, and was up until 4am. John’s one stiff puppy today. His arms are a mass of bruises, he got knocked in the head at some point, and his back is covered in pruple too. Anyway, 5 years of work had led to this, and I’m proud of him. You can see all the photos right here.