Last night, I was practicing Nage-No-Kata with a fellow brown belt under the watchful eye of one of our Senior black belts who also does a lot of refereeing and at one point was a Kata Examiner. It's really good to have him reviewing my kata as I learn it, because he provides me with advice from the big picture (i.e. how to transit from one throw to the next) all the way down to the smallest details (your knee needs to be at a 45 degree angle when you finish Sumi Otoshi). At the end of Kata practice, he mentioned that I was progressing nicely. I mentioned that I thought it would take me a year before I could perform Nage-no-Kata. Then he said something to me: "I think Sensei wants you to do it sooner - you are an Ikkyu, aren't you?". "Actually, " I replied, " I am just a Sankyu." I realize that I haven't had a change in Rank since returning to Judo almost 3 years ago.
Originally, I thought I would go to promotional shiai, but unfortunately, in our area, those have moved to Saturdays from Sundays, and I can't attend any of them because my religion precludes me from both traveling and competing on Saturday. Truth be told, I haven't been to a competition in 18 months, and I want to go back to one. I have been looking for some local tourneys, but unfortunately aside from the east coast tourney - another Saturday tourney, there seems to be very little on the Radar.
I do want to progress rank-wise, but somehow that has been the farthest thing from my mind - especially in the last 18 months since my last competition - that was, of course, until it was brought up the other night.
Over the last 7 months or so, I have progressed significantly in both my competition capability and technique, and my Sensei has faith in my abilties - which goes a long way. I think I need a Shiai or two under my belt before I progress, so that at least my progress and how I apply my Judo will be more evident.
The trick is finding the right shiai to go to.
One day, I will get my Shodan, but with Judo, as with many other things in life, there are many great ironies - the one I feel today is that the more I progress, the more I feel I need to go.