On Sunday, we had the barbecue at the dojo to mark Golden Week as we do each year. F-Sensei brought it forward because it was James's last day until he flies back to the US, Arizona for good. He got his brown belt while I got my black belt. Sadly, since it was his last day in Japan, we never got to roll while wearing our new belts. I will perhaps never see him as a brown belt despite having spent the last 5 years training with him, discussing techniques and consoling each other over problems we are having. I consider him my jiu-jitsu brother.
So, I was promoted to black belt. For some people that may sound like a huge accomplishment. I know when I was just a few years into training I never envisaged myself wearing a black belt. It was always that Shangri-la on the horizon that I would probably never find. I almost faltered on my path too. Injury was the biggest hurdle to get over. I still don't know quite how I feel about attaining such a prestigious rank in BJJ. I'm neither joyous or frantic, I actually don't care anymore. There is still so much more to perfect, so many areas I want to improve. Takedowns, escapes, leglocks, submissions and passing the guard as well as maintaining it.
There have been really bad dark days when training and also amazing days where I felt I was floating. These days, good or bad, will repeat in the future. I've no doubt about that. I don't worry about being tapped as I once did, people pass my guard, white belt submits me, ex-judo guy throws me - don't care! I just keep on trying to improve and adapt, be better than I was yesterday.
"The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way."
- Marcus Aurelius