Every day we’re at Cameron’s dojo, he looks at the ladder-like display of belt colours. He looks at the wall with black belts displayed, names written on them in gold. He knows his instructor, Sir Joel, has a black belt, and so do the senseis who instruct the class. He’s watched the black belts working out on the downstairs mat, wide-eyed with wonder at how hard they smack the targets.

But he’s never really grasped what the heck it all means.

Tonight was the dojo’s ‘black belt extravaganza.’ Ten low-black belts were testing for their black belts, and two – including Sir Joel – were testing for their second degree black belt and the right to be called Sensei. It’s an open event, where you can go and watch the testing, and there’s a bit of a show to go along with it.

Cameron’s jaw dropped at the hundreds of pushups and squats and kicks that they did. We watched as they did their Katas, a sort of choreographed ‘dance’ almost, and leaping, kicking, flying drills. Best of all was the board-breaking display. One guy did a backflip off the padded structural support post and cracked a wooden board with his foot on the way down. Sir Joel broke what looked like a half-dozen concrete blocks with a flying kick.

Now, I’m not going to try to tell you that Cameron sat mesmerized by the show. In fact at one point the audience hushed JUST in time to hear me firmly and loudly say, “STOP THAT RIGHT NOW AND SIT YOUR BUM DOWN CAMERON.”  Joy. Two of the other kids from his class were there with us, and they seemed to feed off each other, especially Cameron and the youngest one. It was far too slow paced for him, and far too much sitting, with people doing cool stuff that he wanted to do, and far too late in the evening. We didn’t get home until 9:30, and we left early.

Once we here home, though, my teary little sleepy boy insisted on doing ten pushups – twice. Plus ten squats. And ten squat-jumps. He ran to feed Nimoo, and remembered about brushing his teeth. He started to whine, he wanted to do something before bed but I wouldn’t let him, but he stopped himself.

We snuggled in his bed after reading one story, and he wrapped his arms loosly around my neck so that we could be face-to-face. “I want to do that, Mama. I want to kick like they do, I want to break boards and construction stuff. I could get my black belt.” He was all excited, squirmy, not ready to sleep yet, so I quietly asked him what he thinks he’d have to do to get there. He started off by boasting that he could already kick down houses, but soon calmed a little, and admitted, “I’m gonna have to listen to Sir Joel and do my pushups and try really hard.”

“You’re going to have to call him Sensei Joel I suspect, next class,” I reminded Cameron. We couldn’t stay long enough to see him awarded his second degree black belt, and I certainly don’t know what level the Master was expecting, but Joel outshone everyone there in his focus, determination, precise movements, and technique to my eyes.

“Someday maybe I’ll be Sensei Cameron.”

And with that, he got himself comfortable (which involved around a dozen squirms and spins), and went to sleep, happy.


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