Started training August 2005 age 34. Tested for black belt July 2012, age 41.
Black Belt Speech:
Hi. My name is Wendie Hohman and I am 41 years old. I take karate because it helps me move mountains.
I am honored today to accept my Shodan from Sensei Brian Sortor at Sortor Bushido Kai Karate.
This honor is awarded in the form of a belt of black, to be worn humbly around my waist each time I am at the dojo, perform at a demonstration, or compete at a tournament. This ranking can mean many different things to different people, as I'm sure you will hear today from my warrior companions and from various conversations amongst yourselves. In its purest form, this honor means that all basics of the style have been mastered. The BASICS. In another culture, during a very different era, this would mean that I am now ready to be trained for battle. I can now block,
strike, evade and attack in a basic manner. As easy as it is to inflate the image of a black belt, having visions of Jet Li or Bruce Lee or Tony Jaa, for me it means a lifetime of striving to live by a code of justice, duty, honesty, honor, courage, courtesy and compassion.
That Mountain….where my kia's morphed into screams and again into a battle cry that still drips from the melting snow and will haunt the valley for years to come. That daunting goal you are trying to reach….You can do it. You can do it with a clear knowledgeable mind, a healthy strong body and an unselfish spirit with a heart overflowing with courage and honesty. Those things, those seemingly basic things, are what will guide and lift you through your training to the mountain top.
In as much as the rank tests are about curriculum, the Out trips are all of that but even more a test of spirit, a test of courage and a test of maturity. No matter how much you train, you will undoubtedly be presented with a requirement or task that in your wildest dreams you could have not prepared for. It's not all about high blocks and down blocks, knife hands and jump spinning hook kicks, Unsu or Heian Shodan. It's not about leading or following. It is not about modifying the requirements to meet your weaknesses or negotiating with Sensei about an alternative. You do it, or you don't. You do it to the very best of your ability and reach for something even beyond
that, or you don't. You hit harder than you have ever hit in your life, or you don't. You will be jubilant. You will be disappointed. You will be thankful. And I look forward to meeting you on top of the mountain.
During our second Out trip, I was reminded of a conversation I had had with my husband many years ago when I was first was learning to trail ride on my motorcycle. On this particular day of riding, I had reached my tipping point, which back then, happened pretty often. My tipping points typically include tears, anger, exhaustion and fear. I was spent. I had fallen down or crashed on numerous occasions, could barely pick up my motorcycle and most definitely could no longer think clearly. Shawn rode back to where I had decided to stay, by God. After assessing that I had no severe injuries and my motorcycle still ran, my choices were laid out clearly and honestly.
"No one is going to ride your bike back for you. Take a good look around you; there is nowhere to drive the truck into here. You HAVE to get back on your bike. You HAVE to go back through all the scary stuff you just came through. You HAVE to try again. As long as it takes you, as many times as you might crash and fall again, YOU have to do it." That advice has been some of the most pinnacle pieces of guidance in my life, because it is applicable to not just motorcycle riding, but through the loss of loved ones, the loss of a job, or at any time in my life when the obstacles and barriers seems just too great, to painful to make it through. But the idea of living the rest of my life alone in the woods with just my trusty motorcycle for company wasn't all that appealing. I had to carry on. One step at a time. One breathe at a time. One obstacle at a time. One mountain at a time. Then, after many more crashes and years of practice, the next time I
found myself on that trail, I smiled at the terrain, appreciated the beauty of the path and grabbed another gear.
There are too many names on my list of thank you's! Each of you (and many who are no longer with this dojo) have helped me through the chaos of these past seven years. There is not enough time to name everybody and I would be even more of a blubbering fool by the time we got through them all. You know who you are and how I feel about you. But, there is one person that stands alone at the top of that list. That person is Shawn Hohman. Last week we celebrated our 15 year anniversary. I'll spare you all the mushy details. Seven of those years I have been training at this dojo. For 2-4 days a week for the past 360-some odd weeks, Shawn has lived katas, bruising, rank tests, tears, tournaments, nunchakus, Sai's, Kristina, 2 dojo's, dojo family fun nights, dojo this, dojo that, karate classes, karate talk, karate movies. He has sacrificed many of his own wishes so I could chase after mine. This belt belongs to you as much as it does me.
THANK YOU so much. I love you.
Thank you all for coming today. And for those of you on your way up that mountain, you think you know what you are capable of. You don't. We will show you The Way. "Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting so get on your way." OSS.