Black Belt Test Recap Part 1

After months of rescheduling, my black belt test finally went down on Sunday June 6th, 2010. Firstly, I’d like to thank my family and friends for joining me in celebration. Special thanks to Shaun L. who did an amazing job taking pictures. He took over 800 shots over the course of the four hour exam. For this and other reasons I’m going to split this epic post into a few parts over a few days.

That would be a dark brown belt I am wearing

For me, the exam was the culmination of 4+ years of training and around 430 classes (surprisingly few. blame business travel).

There were four of us being tested. Two of us (Tristen and I) were going for our black belt. The other two (Josh and Monish) were going for their first degree black belt. Those two had four extra forms to complete (including a spear form) and harder conditioning come the end of the test.

Pretest, I was nervous as heck. Having just flown in from France Friday night and having spent Saturday busily trying to prep the House of Rock for Sunday’s post-test party, I was struggling to find time to come to peace with the anxiousness.

We started with a few basic forms and kicking sequences. While not very tricky, these simple exercises worked wonders at calming me down. Nothing says chill out like kicking imaginary opponents in the face.

Front Kick
Front kick to the imaginary Face!

Next up we returned to the world of forms. For my test I needed to know 7 hand forms and 5 weapon forms (4 staff, one sword). We worked on the individual staff forms first and then ventured into the two person form. I was paired up with 1st degree candidate Monish. He was an excellent partner.

bo staff
Get ready to feel the pain
bo staff form
Mike D evading the sweep

Our staff form seemed to be a crowd favorite. Both Monish and I were performing at the peak of our ability. Shaun took a video and I will do what I can to post it within the week. Though I think Monish’s family may have a better take.

Monish and I were also paired for self defenses. We black belt candidates had to perform 27 self defenses.

roundhouse kick

After I finished my self-defenses, Monish got a chance for revenge including some bonus beautiful first degree hip throw maneuvers.

Monish's Revenge.

Tomorrow, we will explore the world of sparring and board breaking!
(enjoy part II here)

4 thoughts on “Black Belt Test Recap Part 1

  • 6/8/2010 at 8:30 am

    Mr Miagi taught me to NEVER SWEEP THE LEGS!

  • 6/8/2010 at 9:18 am

    You planned the post-test party before you took the test?

    • 6/8/2010 at 9:22 am


      For my academy the actual black belt test is more like a PHD’s public defense of a thesis. You’d have to screw up pretty severely to fail. The pass/fail portion is a private pretest where we are openly criticized on techniques and maneuvers.

      Going into the final test, I knew I’d pass… it was only a question of how well I could represent myself and my academy to the public eye.


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