Well, the girls have finished all their requirements for their black belts except their essays. They have to turn in an essay each that tells different things like why they started karate, what, in their minds, constitutes a "black belt"...etc. They are very excited to be done! They've worked hard and had a lot of fun in the meantime. They will be belted with their black belts almost exactly four years after they began.
Of course, I didn't have my camera with me for most of the testing. I had my husband take some pictures on his phone but I don't have that with me to transfer onto here. I will post some pictures when I have them. Their testing included three board breaks (they each broke two boards with kicks and one with a hand strike), five minutes of full-contact sparring with black belts (six of us rotated through in 50 second intervals, each taking a different "attack"...one with a fake knife, one from behind with a choke hold, one with a frontal gun attack, etc.). Then they each had to perform a 66-move KATA (a sequence of 66 moves that they have been working on and building on for the past 4 years). They were required to know 81 moves, a combination of strikes, blocks, kicks and escapes and were randomly tested on them. They did very well on all these tests!
The girls began karate when our oldest was beginning second grade (seven years old) and the second one was in first grade (six years old). Now they are eleven and ten. We've gone through three instructors. The first one was with us for quite a while, the second only about two semesters. The instructor we have now has been with us the longest. We have really enjoyed his classes. He just announced last week that he will be moving to a location nearer to his home and a new instructor will be taking his place. The girls are not too sure they like this change, although the instructor taking his place is the president for our state's chapter for the school of self defense we attend. He is very good, we already know that. It's just the change thing that will be difficult. Even I am a bit apprehensive, although my sister had this instructor for her daughter and they loved him. I assist with teaching, since I got my first degree black belt almost two years ago. I am a bit nervous since every person's technique is a bit different and I worry that my karate may seem shoddy in his opinion. :)
This December I qualify to test out for my second degree black belt. Another man will also be testing out for his second degree black belt and if he passes, he then will take over the class in January. He and I tested for our black belts at the same time so we all know and are comfortable with him...it will be nice to have him teach then if he does. I will continue assisting with the class if I pass my second degree or not.
The other girls are also doing quite well. Our third daughter is about exactly halfway done and our fourth daughter is about 2 semesters from halfway. They have begun to really try hard and do well with their moves and really enjoy the class more and more. It's been a fun process for all of us!
August 21st we will be having the girls' award ceremony/belting ceremony. I will be sure to post pictures then!