After recent mudansha pre-tests (those working towards black belt) it is good to remember that "if you can take it, you can make it." The highest reward for making such an effort is not what you get for it but what you become by going through the process. When one rises to the occasion, things will fall into place. After all, we are not meant just to go through life, but rather to grow through life. An error is not a mistake unless you fail to correct it; what one sees on the inside or outside does not have to be changed, just change how you see it. Gradings are about making oneself better and realizing the inner innate potential that is sitting dormant in most people. Many stop looking for work once they find a job and miss out on other skills they still have within them. In Budo the concept is like not doing a diet that has an expiration date, but focusing on a lifestyle that lasts forever. The ancient saying "you have to scale the mountain to view the plain" holds true today. The plain is what's out there and possible in reality, not being stuck in a big box from a big box store. It has been said that people do not lack strength, but they lack will, and in the end the black belt is a test of will and belief in the self. Hanshi Platt