This was a special belt with my name and the name of our club, Kenshukai, embroidered on it in Japanese characters. We order them from Japan and they're expensive (like, nice restaurant meal for two expensive). I'd been wearing a plain black belt, thinking I'd replace the good one next time I graded.
Last night, at the end of class, Shihan had us sit comfortably, the way he does when he has an announcement to make.
One of the instructors had organised a collection, not just around the Tuesday class but from everyone in our area who used to train with me or knew me from gradings and tournaments, and Shihan had ordered me a new belt. It was a complete surprise; nobody had dropped so much as a hint.
I've been going to karate for 15 years and even though I only see these people once a week, we are a family. We do birthdays and Christmas and sorry-you're-leaving. But I was not expecting this, and I am touched and amazed.
The belt wasn't a matter of life and death, but it was important to me and symbolic of the effort I've put in to reach this level. Thank you to my karate friends for recognising that and for being thoughtful and generous enough to put things right.