I remember when I started Judo last year, the only thing I could think of was how quickly I could get through the belts. I soon realised that it was completely the wrong mindset and I started just enjoying the process of learning and trying to improve what I've learnt. Soon after that, I completely forgot about belts and ranks and found that I was now actually learning quicker, as I was only focused on improving my Judo, rather than getting to the next level.
However, a couple of weeks ago, my sensei informed me that it was time to grade, so I went home after training and got the syllabus out to start 'learning'. To my surprise, I realised that I already knew 90% of what was required and I realised again that I definitely had the right strategy. By only concentrating on learning and improving, I didn't even know that I was already 90% prepared for my grading!
So last Saturday was D Day. I arrived as normal and we did the normal warm up. There was also some technique work mixed in with the warm up, which helped. I was then called over by my sensei while the rest of the class carried on as normal. Even though I was fully prepared, I still felt nervous, because it is almost like you're sitting an exam. However, to my delight, he picked someone who was just a little bit taller than me, but slightly lighter, to act as uke. That made the throws a lot easier! I did all the required throws, holds and escapes and I was awarded 5th Kyu and a brand new yellow belt. Even though I'm not really that focused on ranking anymore, it still felt nice to make another achievement and another step up the ladder.
When I got home I had a quick glance at the 4th Kyu syllabus and again realised that I already know quite a bit of it, but I left it there. I will stick with my strategy of learning and improving and not thinking about grading until I'm told to by my sensei, as I trust his judgement.
There is a ne waza competition coming up and, although the first category is 3rd Kyu and under, everyone keeps telling me to enter. Like I said before, my wrestling background makes me a bit more competitive on the ground than standing up. I think that is why they think I would do well. The thing is, I'm able to defend attacks/turnovers on the ground, but my knowledge of attacking on the ground is still limited, so I find it difficult to attack and, for that reason, I am hesitant to enter. I don't think I'll win a ne waza fight just because I can defend attacks!
For now, I will just keep on enjoying the learning process and see where it takes me.