Twice a year at my gym we have tests in Muay Thai. I have written about this subject before, but it is worth hashing out once again. If you have no interest, no need to read further - I won't be offended.
Before the last test in December I had a talk with the head instructor of our gym who is a nice guy. The subject of discussion was our testing. I really don't enjoy it. In fact is is probably the least favorite thing I do at the gym. It isn't like I am unprepared for the test - so why the aversion?
Well, I have enough stress and crazy during my life with work and family and other stuff. The last thing I need is for my martial arts instructor to be quizzing me on technique and yelling at me if I miss a question or throw a technique incorrectly. I go to the gym to relax, believe it or not. By relaxing I mean getting my mind off of reality and all of my responsibilities. And I love the exercise.
Come test time things get a little more serious. We are put through two solid hours of questioning, and have to demonstrate to our kru (thai for teacher) what we have learned over the last five months.
But in the end, I go to the very best Muay Thai gym in this area and our instructor has deemed testing to be essential to advancing. So I have to do it. I have not brought it up since the last discussion I had with him last year and I won't bring it up again. He is not changing his mind and that is the end of it.
Traditional Muay Thai does not have rank or sashes or belts of any sort. You are either good, or not. Our gym has something like ten ranks or sashes. They are different colors.
I assume that I will pass my test on Wednesday since I have been to just about every class (as usual) and I will receive my red sash. Two or three more years and I will receive my black sash - the highest level at my gym. By that time I will have been doing Muay Thai for somewhere between five and six years! That is a LOT of mat time folks.
The system of sashes does keep some people motivated, however. Different people value the rank system more than me but whatever. I will admit that it will be a proud moment to receive a black sash. If I am counting correctly, by that time I will be only the third or fourth person at the gym to receive one - that is if everyone keeps going and attending. Three years ago I was a beginner and there were scores of students ahead of me in rank. But people quit, move, and just plain ol' don't attend. If nothing else, I am consistent.
Muay Thai and my gym family has changed my life so much for the better - it is hard to explain it to a lot of people. Respecting your opponents and having a beer together after beating on each other is a hard thing for many to comprehend. But there it is.
I will be very happy after the test this week - then things can get back to normal, for me anyway.