Congratulations are in order for Chris Miller, shown in this photo on the far right (standing next to his wife Kim, with Kim Schaber on the left). Chris was promoted last night to brown sash level 1 in our system.
The three in this photo have been among my students that have shown tenacity, staying with it and practicing together since Nancy and I left the Quad Cities over a year ago. Chris stepped up and has been leading the practice sessions. In video exchanges, I've watched his technique and offered video replies. He was also the first to join the online school and has obviously studied the video instruction very carefully.
I've been teaching for 11 years and only two students have reached brown sash level. Rich Coulter made it to black sash. Now Chris Miller has reached brown, and I have no doubt he'll earn his black sash. Chris has not only stepped up in leadership, he's also making a name for himself on the tournament circuit. And with the great attitude and sportsmanship that my students are known for.
Many students have started studying with me, but various pressures in life get in the way--school, jobs, car payments, relationships--not everyone has the persistence or the determination to remain on this martial arts journey.
The internal arts are difficult. You don't take a test every two or three months whether you're ready or not. You have to know the material and be able to show real progress. I've started many tests during the past 11 years and--right in the middle of the test--stopped and turned it into a regular class because it was obvious the people taking their test weren't ready. As a rule, I don't hand out sashes just for showing up. And it becomes more difficult as you progress up the ranks. I get pickier, and I expect more the closer a student gets to black sash.
Reaching brown sash level is a real accomplishment. So congratulations, Chris. I'm proud of you. I expect others will follow you in the coming months if they're ready. So now it's time to dive ahead into bagua. I can't wait to get back to the Quad Cities and work out together again.