The results first: I passed. Yay!
It was tough.
There were a LOT fewer people at this test than my last one - I guess August isn't a popular month for promotions! USSD tests the purple, blue, blue-green stripe, and green belts together at headquarters (everyone works out together for the first half hour or so, then the higher level belts split off and use the smaller room and the purple and blues use the big room.) As a blue belt, testing for blue/green-stripe, I'm a lower-rank in this group. There were maybe eighteen or twenty blues, and twenty-five or thirty purples. Quite small compared to some tests. It was shorter, too, because of the fewer people ... only four and a half hours this time.
Master Taylor, highest-ranked guy in the dojo and the Head Of All Instruction dude, was in a cranky mood today. Oh, it's very very very bad when the Chief High God Instructor is cranky. He decided early on that everyone's side kicks were crappy. (Well, they were.) So he has us drag out the folding chairs for his favorite excruciating drill - throwing a well-formed and well-aimed side blade kick over the back of the chair. It's easy to do once. It's hard to do a hundred times, especially when you come under the Master's watchful eye, 'cause it really starts to hurt.
After that, it was on to forms. We performed our katas and pinyans a bunch of times and got graded on them. Y'know, I just realised I never did pinyan 3 today! They never asked for that one. Well, that's OK, it's not my favorite ;)
Then we paired off and did our defensive manuvers. I got paired off with a nice older gentleman named Walt ... seriously, this guy was 65 years old, so I smacked a little old man around for a while today! Hee. That was different.
Next we did a gauntlet drill - moving down the line and blocking/counterstriking versus attack after attack after attack. The gauntlet line was about twenty people long. I forget how many times I went through; ten or more. Eeee, that really redlines the ol' heartrate by the time you get to the end of the line, I had a major stitch in my side. Thankfully, after the gauntlet, we all lined up at attention and Master Diaz had a little two or three minute lecture for us, so I had a moment to catch my breath.
Then, the instructors holler "go put on your sparring gear" and this is the point where you know you're in the homestretch, but the worst bit is right in front of you. They save sparring for last, wanting you to be tired so they can see if your technique falls apart (it usually does.) There was only one other woman at blue belt level, so we knew we would fight each other. We had to wait until the very end for it - we were the very last pair called out. Oy. I was critiqued as being too aggressive; all attack and no defense. This will surprise my sensei when he hears about it. He usually can't get me to go on the offensive enough. I need to work a LOT on this area; probably my worst part right now.
Then, finally, blessedly, we're done. They have us all kneel, talk at us a little more, and award us our belts. As always, the new belt is strange and stiff and hard to put on. It takes months of work and sweat to break them in and make them comfortable, and now I start that process with the blue-green.