Almost ever since I got my 3rd Degree Brown Belt (3rd Kyu) last May I've been gunning for getting my 2nd Kyu this May. I've been working really hard all school year and have grown by leaps and bounds. I've had minor epiphanies where things have finally clicked into place and several "Ah-ha!" moments. It's been great!
However I feel it's taken 5/8 of the school year to get up to the skill level I should be at for my current rank. Logically that's only allowed for 3/8 of the year to continue to move forward into the skill level required for the next rank.
It means that if I tested next month (and there was never a huge amount of resistance from the instructors save one), I feel I'd pass...but just barely. And since I don't want to squeak by on tests anymore, it means I'm not ready to test yet.
Since formal classes end when the school year does, my next opportunity to test again won't be until October.
For some people that six month gap would be demoralizing after working so hard for a specific goal. For me though it's a huge relief. It means I have six more months to tighten up my self-defenses (some of which I've only done in class once or twice), improve my kicks (maybe even finally manage to pull off a serviceable flying side kick), and discover even more subtle nuances in our hand-to-hand defenses (which we call "one steps").
I'll have more time to develop and perfect the hand and foot combos I need to come up with for my test (which I actually haven't even been able to put any time into yet).
My katas - which are by far my strongest section - will only get better.
Though I feel far more confident about being test-worthy by October than I ever did for May, a lot can happen between now and then (namely involving my father-in-law). Still I plan on continuing to work hard, throwing as much time and effort into this as I can.
As I've said before, the reasons why I push myself so hard are a little nebulous, even to me. What I do know though is Karate is a very fun activity for me. I enjoy pushing the physical limits of my body. I acknowledge that Karate probably isn't the ideal martial art for me personally (my temperament and build are better suited for a Chinese style like Tai Chi or Wing Chun Kung Fu); yet I love it, probably because I have to work hard at it.
So here's to hoping for a productive summer and a solid test just in time for my birthday!