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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Belt Promotion, Personal Stories » It Doesn’t Come Free

It Doesn’t Come Free

A few days ago, I tested for my 1st degree brown belt at Brian Duffy’s Kenpo Karate in Austin, TX. It was my third test under Sifu Duffy and each has been different. There were four of us testing for advanced rank, and this time around we had just about two hours of forms, techniques lines, and curriculum. Then it was on to sparring.

Group photo from test night at Brian Duffy's Kenpo Karate

Smiles from the front four didn't come free.

After my 2nd degree brown belt test, I was nervous about sparring. My first opponent though was Mr. Toby Rodriguez, 2nd degree black belt, who had helped me prepare at a get-together over the summer. He pushed me pretty good in the match and rang my bell more than once. The second one-on-one match was against a fellow brown belt. It was also a good match though I reinjured my right foot hurt originally while sparring earlier in the month at Disciple Martial Arts. From here on out I would have to hide my right foot behind me and try not to use it.

Match number 3 was against my instructor, Mr. Damian Wilson. Like Mr. Rodriguez, he was fighting just above my level to push me on the test. During one of the clashes, I took a reverse punch to the ribs and had to stop. The pain was tough. I took my mouthpiece out and put my arms over my head trying to suck oxygen in. After a minute or two, Mr. Wilson, still in stance, looked at me and calmly said “It doesn’t come free. Let’s go.” Through the haze of pain, being winded, and self-induced stress, I heard everything he meant. My mouthpiece went back in, and we finished the match. I continued afterward to have two-on-one and three-on-one matches. Many of the details for those fights I can’t remember.

Look, I understand some people reading this will wonder why on earth would we go through something like that. It isn’t and doesn’t have to be for everyone. With all the sincerity possible, that’s ok. I know these kinds of events aren’t necessarily how other schools or even other Arts push people. Conversely though, there is a group of people reading this, nodding their heads. They’re thinking been there, done that, will do it again. Or even another contingent going, I want that challenge in my life.

Exams like these are meant to push you to your line. And then see what’s on the other side. There is no right or wrong answer. To find out what’s on the other side though, it doesn’t come free. But as in life, the best things worth knowing and having, never do come free.

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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