Started training June 2006, age 10. Tested for black belt July 2012, age 16.
Black Belt Speech:
As you can see, I have earned my black belt. Attaining this rank has up til now seemed so far away. I can hardly believe that I am now wearing mine, but at the same time, I feel that I have earned it. So here I am, having accomplished what I've been working for six years of my life. I am now a black belt, along with the five others who braved with me the journey up the mountain. And, as you can see, we have all come back alive. This journey began for me when I was ten. Like everyone else here, I started karate in a private lesson with Sensei Brian introducing me and my brother to the basic movements. I remember trying to figure out these foreign kicks and strikes, and being quite clueless on how to put on a gi. When I first started, Karate was just a sport like any other, and I did it because it was simply fun. I enjoyed White belt, from the pride of finally figuring out taikyoku shodan to the challenge of completing four moves in a row when Sensei called them out in Japanese. Pretty soon, I was ready for my first rank test. Passing the first rank test into yellow belt felt like quite the accomplishment, and I was pretty proud of getting my next belt so quickly. From yellow belt, I remember taking almost two and a half minutes trying to figure out the opening six moves to Heian Nidan. Yellow belt also introduced sparring, and my brother and I would take the sparring class every Saturday morning. Next came blue belt, and then purple-- with each belt came new kicks, strikes, kata, and star testing. Purple I and Purple II were the first belts to introduce weapons. With the bo staff in purple one, and the ever famous nun chucks in purple two. These belts were great, especially with Sensei Brian giving us an early intro to the Wushu staff form. However, as the belts became more advanced, the rank tests
became harder as well. Beginning with the brown belt test, rank tests were something which I never really looked forward to, but something I really wanted to get over with. These tests have pushed me to my limit, but the harder they were, the harder I pushed and the greater I felt once it was all over.
At last came Red belt. The highest belt in the school so far. And, I have to say, it was pretty awesome, especially with the cool weapons we got to use. Once there was a group of Red Belts, it became apparent that we would all test for black belt together. By this time I had no idea what to expect, but I was sure that I wanted to continue on the journey. Special outings were soon scheduled
with Sensei. Brian. These out trips acted as a sort of “pretests.” I am not allowed to say what exactly happened in them, but these out trips were hard and intense. After the last of these out trips, I gained a higher respect for the Black Belt test, as well as a good dose of fear. I was sure that I would be pushed withing inches of my breaking point, and perhaps a little over it. However, I did survive the black belt
test, and I have come back stronger.
So now I am a black belt. This doesn't mean that I can kick through walls, win any fight I participate, perform perfect kata, or be immune to pain. Black belt instead symbolizes how hard I worked for it and how far I've come to achieve it. Getting this belt has been the hardest thing I have ever done. Earning this rank does not signal the end of my training. I intend to continue in my training here under Sensei Brian and soak in whatever more he has to show me. Having achieved this goal, I want to thank those who have supported me on this journey.
First, I want to thank my parents who made taking karate possible for me and my brother, driving back and forth to the dojo several times a week for the past six years, and for encouraging me to practice and work hard from the beginning. I also want to give a big thank you for Sensei Brian . Thank you for your loving way which you pushed me and the rest of the now black belts to our breaking point to bring
us back stronger than we ever were before. Thank you for showing me what I thought was my limit and then pushing that limit and forcing me to grow both physically and mentally. I want to say thank you to Kristina for running the dojo and helping to make this journey possible.. To the whole black belt team, I am glad I tested with you. Your strength and your effort has inspired me. To MMA coach Jimmy,
thank you for your training in preparation for black belt: giving us your time and care, and for those awesome outdoor private lessons.
Thank you all for coming to support the first black belts of this dojo. The last and greatest thank you which I need to express is that to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Igive Him credit for this, because without Him, I probably wouldn't be here, and I certainly wouldn't have made it this far. As it says in Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.