Achieving my black belt in karate means so much to me. It has been a significant part of my life and a rewarding journey, and I can’t wait to see what my future in karate holds.
It has been eight years since I started training as an eight-year-old and in all those years so much about me has changed. When I started training I was super timid in my sparring and very shy in general. Now, sparring is one of the areas that I feel has improved the most for me. I have put in a lot of hard work to gain confidence in sparring, which has helped me also to gain confidence in all other aspects of my life. Just a couple of months ago I won third place for sparring at the annual CNGK championships, which was the first time I had ever placed for sparring at a tournament. Knowing that I would be able to defend myself if I was ever in a dangerous situation has also given me a lot of comfort to be more independent and advocate for myself.
Karate has taught me a lot about the importance of determination and my ability to persevere when faced with challenges. I feel like I have applied the same determination and perseverance in other aspects of my life and have accomplished so much as a result. For example, I have joined more clubs at school, like show choir and concert band. I am excited to get my black belt because it signifies how much time and energy I have put into ka rate.
I feel a strong sense of pride in my accomplishments in karate. I consider it to be a key part of who I am. If I hadn’t done karate, I probably wouldn't have nearly as much self-confidence as I do now. I have grown in strength of mind, body and spirit. Karate has helped me to grow mentally by teaching me skills like memorization, focus and courage. The focus part has been especially important to me because it taught me to ignore distractions and have an almost meditative mindset when I need to think about just one thing in particular. Of course, karate has helped me to become much more physically fit than I would have been, in my strength, speed and cardio. Karate has also given me strength of spirit in that I am able to push myself out of my comfort zone while still taking care of myself and caring for others.
One of the best skills I have started to develop since my Shodan-ho grading is actually my leadership skills. I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help lead classes of beginner-level students under the guidance of Sensei Barb. It has been a wonderful privilege and I’m excited to continue during the summer. I love working with kids and seeing their progress and enthusiasm for something that I love so much. When I was younger I dreamed of being a black belt and I really looked up to Sensei Barb and the other black belts I saw at tournaments. Of course, I still look up to them very much. I found and still find it very motivating to have such great role models, and now I hope to become a role model for the students in the classes that I help with.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to grade to Shodan and I can’t wait to continue to develop as a student and hopefully someday as a teacher too. After seeing everything I’ve gained from my karate journey thus far, I am excited to see where it takes me next.