Just getting there was an adventure. Because we had the upshershin yesterday, and I had the belt ceremony last night, my husband and I went out to dinner. And because I knew there would be upwards of 53 people there, I decided the only thing to do was to go already dressed. And I also knew it would be a mixed ceremony, so I dealt with that, too. I still haven't heard from my rabbi.
So. I wore this to the restaurant: the gi, a t-shirt underneath, my orange belt, the pants, a matching black skirt over the pants that didn't quite cover them and one of my summer hats. These are little cotton knit hats that are designed to cover the entire scalp and still be comfortable in the heat. They're also cute. This one is just off-white, so it kinda works with the uniform. I felt rather silly, though - the gi stands out, the pants legs under the skirt and the summer hat. Very silly looking.
After dinner, I try to call a car service, but my phone kept cutting out. Fortunately, a bus came quickly and, even though I had to wait for the second bus, I ended up only a couple minutes late.
To find the school closed and gated with a sign saying to go to the other school a half hour later. I called another car and got there at the last possible minute. I barely had enough time to stash my coat and bags. Just as well that I didn't take the first car, though.
The place was packed. The foyer was filled with parents and the dojo with students and masters - of all ages, too. I found my place among the oranges, and near my classmates (except for J, who was not permitted to take mixed classes, so she stood at the side dressed much like me and watched.) In front of the adults, there were a couple of lines of kids in their own belt order. This included Yitzchak, the son of my friend Riki, who stood directly behind me. Riki, with permission from her rabbi, didn't wear a skirt, but did wear her wig. One person away from me was Penina, who also didn't wear a skirt, but as she's not married, didn't need to cover her hair. I can't tell you how cute they were.
We ran in place for awhile, even doing some "very short" punches. We were packed so closely that anything else would have hit the person in front of us. Then we did a very, very abbreviated 24. Or maybe 12, since they realized it would be impossible to do the floor portions. There just wasn't room. We did a couple of kicks, but we really were too tight even for those, even turned to an angle. "Front kick, bent knee. Very short kicks!"
Then the adults split to the sides and sat by the walls while the little ones had a short class. Again, they were all adorable. There was one little pumpkin of a girl who just look rather sweet and confused. The kids did one on one (divided into pairs safely out of striking distance, then taking turns hitting or punching towards their partners) and then two on two (same thing, but two hits/punches at a time) and then some push-ups, and they were taught a new technique.
Then it was our turn to do the same. It was a lot more complicated because there were so much more of us. We got back into our lines and were turned so that every two lines faced each other. I was paired with Riki, which was about the only thing that could have happened. They wouldn't have us spar with men. We practiced selfdefense techniques and were taught two new ones.
1. Double handed choke. Reflex kick, rider's position, grab the nearest hand with pressure points, their arm down with your elbow and then pressure point behind the ear. Stop when they bend over. (No room for falls.)
2. Single handed choke. Reflex kick, keep leg up, grab hand with opposite hand, bring arm over and either break the thumb or punch.
Then we were split to the sides again and given a demonstration of Pakua weapons work - long stick, sword (real steel, too, and soooo pretty. I envied Master Rosa her ability) and knife techniques. Not *using* the knife, but defending against it. They used a wooden knife. Very impressive. Then back in line. This time, Judith joined us because she'd just be standing. And then came the long part. Getting the belts. In small groups, the master will give a brief word or two about the student, and then tie on the new belt. Not this time. :) Instead, they'd say what belt level they were handing out, call out names, and hand the student the belt as they came up, and then the student, belt still folded, would walk back to his/her place. Maybe pause for hugs from friends.
They went throught the kids in reverse (lower to higher) rank order. Then the adults in reverse rank/reverse time in discipline order. Then they gave out the sword ranks (it's a different discipline within pakua, with its own rankings), the accelerated belts and one boy got black. As you can guess, this all took *forever*. And then there were speeches from a couple of masters. Finally, we were told to turn 180 degrees and to put on our new belts. Then a couple of final punches and it was done.
We asked Instructor Dominique to tie our belts back on for us. This made her very happy. Then we took pictures and then, well. Then the two instructors in my class cornered Master Katie, our old master, and asked about single sex improvement classes *and* about taking the accelerated course. This course is very expensive as well as time consuming, but Riki and, to a lesser extent, Judith, are getting impatient and ambitious. Katie told them of ways to afford it - paying on time, taking students and using the proceeds, letting the school loan them the money at 2% interest.
Accelerated learning means classes every day, often more than one. It costs $$$ over normal tuition - but you can get black belt in under a year. Whereas I expect to take another couple years at it. The discipline likes it because, well, more money and more masters, but I have severe reservations.
I'm not so impatient. :)