The above is a clip from the 2008 Iron Mountain Instructors Camp. This clip shows the range of knowledge covered on Iron Mountain. This year will be the 7th overall camp, and it will be my 4th attendance. Iron Mountain Camp is an intensive lesson for beginners, and an in-depth review for the intermediate and advanced practitioners. For all students, it is a chance to work with new training partners who have different timing and different attributes. It is also a time to see friends from around the country; we joke around, tell stories, and get caught up on each other’s lives. I like to tell people that Iron Mountain camp is like a family reunion with less fighting. The camp is also the best time for curriculum testing, in my opinion, and, if you’re attempting black belt like Mike Miller and Evan Ringle (two of my three instructors), it is the only time for testing.
I’ll be testing for 2nd grade brown belt, which covers the pakal knife twelve attacks, Pekiti empty hands vs. knife level 02, and Pekiti largo single stick tactics. I feel confident in my material. Is it perfect? No, it will never be perfect, but I think I’ve got it good enough to pass. This has been my favorite belt level so far (although, it seems like I say that with every new block of curriculum that I get). Evan started teaching me this curriculum block; Master Zach Whitson, through private lessons, has cleared up some road blocks and focused my practice; and Mike rounded everything out by helping me put it all together. I was lucky enough to get some sparring with all three of my teachers. We had to target the hand only because I currently lack protective headgear. During the year and a half that I’ve been studying this curriculum block, Miller acquired some head protection; so, we did a little harder sparring. I appreciate all their efforts. The lessons and the sparring showed me where my weaknesses were. I will be sparring as part of my test, and my opponent will be someone that I’ve never sparred before. I feel ready, and I’ll leave it up to Master Whitson and the test panel to determine if I know the curriculum well enough.
Testing is a nerve wracking time for me. Even though I’ve been through it six times with Master Z, it’s still anxiety inducing. I’ve settled down over the years because I’ve learned that the testing is straight forward. The keys are: Know the curriculum well enough that you could start teaching it. Know the curriculum block and subsections by name. Be confident. Be honest. Relax. And, most importantly, when Master Whitson gives you notes on something, it is not a negative; treat it as a mini-private lesson that is focused entirely on you. Following these keys can be difficult, especially with eyes from all over the country watching the test and the sparring. Occasionally, my ego gets in the way, and I want to show off or want to win the sparring match. This is where being confident, being honest, and relaxing help me the most. If I’m confident in my skills and my performance, then does it matter if I acknowledge when my opponent gets a good shot in? I’ll be sparring against talented martial artists; so, of course, I’m going to get hit. When it’s a good one, I plan to acknowledge the shot and move on with sparring. This will also keep me honest because sparring is a simulation. If a strike slams into the protective head gear, then I have to realize that shot might have been a fight ender. Finally, being relaxed will help my cardio last longer, and it will also help dampen the ego.
So, please, wish me luck. I’m pretty excited about this camp. It’s the first time that STL Counterpoint will be there as an official club. I’m excited and ready to be in the mountains.