After 18 months of preparation, I was scheduled to take my yellow belt karate test last Sunday. Circumstances were not ideal. I was coming off a few days of a low grade fever, and I had tweaked my shoulder while practicing earlier in the week. I considered cancelling. Why put so much preparation on the line knowing I wasn’t at my best? Why infringe on the teachers’ time? Or on the effort of the two other students who would be testing with me?
On the other hand, I had entered a psychological sweet spot. That inner place where countdown planning, commitment, anticipation, and the willingness to step into the unpredictable all converge. After due reflection, I decided to proceed.
The warm up (cardio, sit ups, push ups, etc) completed in a reasonable 15 minutes. But standing at ready, I suddenly felt dreadfully (I am going to faint or vomit) ill. To my surprise I actually didn’t panic or self-criticize.
In fact, in that physically chaotic moment, unseen calm and positivity enveloped me. And I did something I never thought I would do; I asked to leave.
I headed for the bathroom, but after a mere 15 seconds crossing the lobby I somehow felt reasonably better. I no longer needed the bathroom. I turned around and bowed back in.
Over the next hour plus of demonstration, question and answer, and the final set of push ups, I struggled with speed and form, but again I felt invisibly, yet tangibly supported By what I’m not sure. Months of practice? The teachers? The shared striving of my fellow students? The simple ideal of doing my best in each sweating moment? I don’t know.
What I do know is that I emerged from the experience feeling unexpectedly confident. In myself. In the value of chaos. And in the unseen ways of the karate universe. Perhaps this is evidence of why the first line of the school’s student creed states: “To Build True Confidence.”