Let me tell you a story. It’s the story of a woman who looks just like me, behaves just like me and even has the same name as me. That woman graded for her green belt in Aikido last weekend.
I watched from some disconnected space beyond her as she kneeled proudly before her Ukes: those who would be bringing the attack to her and taking the fall. As she stood to begin the grading her Ki (life force) and memory abruptly left her and disappeared hand in hand to hide in some far corner. Without them her Aikido would be clumsy and without flow.
That woman stumbled through her grading and finished with a look of disappointment in how she had executed her defences. She bowed to her Ukes and thanked them. Their attacks had been committed and well executed and their support had been obvious in their kind smiles.
That nervous, mortified woman was me. I deserved to be there that much I know and am proud of. I have worked hard, trained well and practiced often. I was looking forward to showing my peers and family how far I had come and had faltered at the final hurdle. I felt as if I had let my teachers down and now need to work hard to prove to them that I deserve this.
I see this as an opportunity to work harder and by my next grading I will know my techniques so well that my Ki and memory will not desert me when nervousness shows its hideous face, they will be permanently and inextricably entwined into my being.