Started training: May 2008
Tested for red belt: July 28, 2012, age 15
Believe it or not, my Black Belt journey began when I was just 3 and started ballet. Four years of ballet taught me balance, grace and flexibility. But pink frills and slow movement were just not for me! Next on my journey was competitive gymnastics. This definitely got me away from frills and slow, tedious movements! Gymnastics allowed me to develop my tumbling skills, I still really enjoy learning new tricks. However, after 2 and ½ years, of competing in numerous meets and training 12 hours a week it was time to move on. My mom directed me towards karate and given that my brother, sister and Dad had all trained here – it seemed a good alternative. At first I didn't want to leave gymnastics and start karate, but I am so glad my mom pushed me to give it a try. I remember snippets from white belt, like my introductory private lesson, where I tried to show Sensei everything Jason had taught me, which of course turned out to be less than I thought. Beginning with the wrong foot in tai-kiaoku shodan was just one of many mistakes. So much for a strong first impression.
Thankfully, I did figure out tai-kiaoku shodan and was soon ready for my first rank test. My test for yellow belt was just me and one other student named Adam. There were no assistants then, so I had to attack and distract Adam, who was probably a head taller than me. I was so timid and shy that when I was supposed to distract him all I did was gently poke him, I can't believe how far I have come from that.
A unique memory from yellow belt came with my 11th birthday. With some nudging from my Mom, Kristina decided to start offering dojo birthday parties, so I got to be the first person to ever experience one. Never before and never again have so many ballerinas and gymnasts been at the dojo :) In yellow belt I learned one of my favorite katas Heian-nidan. It was the most complicated form yet and I liked it.
Two memories stand out from my blue belt test. First, while sparring, one of the other testers got me in a rear choke and I had no idea how to get out - thanks for rescuing me, Sensei! And second, after multiple side kicks, I just couldn't break that stupid board. Luckily, that wasn't a requirement, so I still passed. Although I don't have a lot of memories from blue belt, I do remember liking the jump in heian godan. I don't remember much from my purple 1 test, except that I finally broke the board saved for me from my blue belt test. Purple 1 holds a lot of good memories, but I am only going to share a few. Becoming a purple belt marked a change in how I approached my training. Up until that test I had been a perfectionist as far as making every move precise. Once I became a purple belt, I realized that trying to be perfect didn't mean just making each move land in the exact spot anymore, it meant hitting hard and with speed. I was very excited to start learning my first weapon, the staff. I enjoy making sure each slow move was slow, and each fast move was fast and working on the center line of the form, trying to avoid the imaginary walls on either side of me. I also really enjoyed the close gates which changed the beginnings and endings of each form. After approximately 2 months of training as a purple one, I received my blue gi. I've always loved working with little kids and once I earned my blue gi, I was officially an assistant sensei which was extremely exciting. While purple I was full of good memories, the test for purple II did not have a very happy ending. At the very end of my test I landed wrong after breaking a board with a 2 step jump side kick and sprained my ankle, and while resting it, I got really sick. Over the period of 2 weeks I lost almost 10 pounds. The first time after my test that I went anywhere was to Gabi's birthday party almost 3 weeks after my rank test. With that foot in the door, I was able to start to get healthy again, regaining my strength and finally putting on my untouched purple 2. One of my best memories from Purple 2 was learning Ninjushiho, I had seen Jason do this form and it seemed so advanced, that I thought I would never get to learn it and yet there I was. This feeling of accomplishment came pretty much after I learned each new form and realized that these were the same ones I had been watching Jason do earlier!!! As a purple 2, I started using nunchaku, also known as the weapon of 1000 bruises, or as I like to call them, The Flying Sticks of Death! To this day they are my favorite weapon.
I have great memories of the numerous training sessions I had with my cousin Tyler, Elizabeth and Iqmal getting ready for our brown 1 test in early October of 2010. The test itself was brutal but I remember going into that test and telling myself that I would NOT repeat any katas, and thanks to all that training, I didn't have to redo a single one, it was awesome. As a brown 1 I was very excited to start learning wushu. I had seen Jason practice it on numerous occasions and had always been intrigued by the bendy, quick, loud staff. Also as a brown 1 I was granted permission to learn the brown 2 open hand wushu form. Gabi got to teach me it which was very fun and then we got to preform it twice at the Pacific Jewel National tournament. As brown belts, my cousin Tyler & I trained weekly. We had a little system, every Thursday, I would go over to his house, make cookies and then train until we left for the 4:45 class at the dojo. These training sessions really helped me face the brown 2 test with confidence, so thanks Tyler. And the weekly cookie baking sessions also paid off. Training consistently with Tyler helped us get ready to test for brown 2 alongside Gabi and Ben who where testing for red. The most memorable part of this test was a definite “Wendie moment.” All of the bazillion helpers had made 2 circles for testing random self defenses, Gabi and Ben went first and I saw Wendie jump on Gabi pinning her down after she had just finished a self defense on the ground. As I was watching I told my self, “I can not stay on the ground, I must get up before Wendie gets me, I can not stay on the ground.” For the first part of my time in the circle those words kept racing through my head,” can not stay on the ground must get up!” But as I got more and more tired, I just couldn't help it, I forgot to get up quickly. As I was resting a mere second on the ground I remembered those words – but, too late, Wendie was on me. All I could think now was, “oh, crap.” Tyler and I continued training as Brown 2's for awhile. But, like my Dad, sister, brother and 3 other cousins – he quit. So, I was without a training partner to help me on my way to red. Thankfully, Andrea was in need of a training partner too! And so, for the last 5 months, we have been meeting at least once a week. We have also been doing crossfit together for the last 2 months. These past 10 months as a Brown 2 have been the best, craziest, hardest months of my journey to Black Belt by far, although I have a feeling they will be topped by the months to come. This was the hardest test I have had to prepare for but all the time and energy that went into it was definitely worth it.
I am so grateful for all the people who helped me through these years. Firstly my training partners, Tyler, Gabi, and Andrea, thanks So much for everything you have helped me with. And to Jason thank you, for teaching me every new kata I needed to learn before I even took my first class. This is going to be so weird going into Red belt and not get a sneak peak from you. And mom and dad, thank you so much for paying for this spectacular life changing opportunity, thanks for driving me back and forth between the dojo and our house, and thank you for spending endless hours here at the dojo, you are the best parents ever! I love you. Thanks to all the new black belts and especially Sensei for teaching me how to do and be the best I can be. And finally, Lord, thank you for blessing me with this opportunity, with these great people and for giving me the strength to do this I pray that I can continue to serve you as I reach toward black belt, as it says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who give me strength.”