Started training: July 2008 - Age 10
Tested for red belt: June 8, 2013 - Age 15
Well, the test has come and gone. It is very hard to imagine this is my last test in the dojo; just the thought of this moment for the past five years has sent chills down my spine. I have never felt so nervous in my life, not even when I started martial arts.
My brother and I were bullied for what seemed forever when we were in the public school system…although that was four years ago. We didn’t like it, we wanted to strengthen our self-confidence, so we thought…maybe martial arts was the right choice? After scouring the internet for possible choices of dojos, a new word to me at that time, we found a few candidates. After narrowing down to two dojos, we chose Sortor Bushido Kai Karate…the “right choice.”
The concepts were so confusing at first. Having to bow when we entered and exited the dojo, off and on the mat, and all of the ceremonies made me feel a little overwhelmed at first. Despite all of the foreign techniques, all of the moves I would be learning, and all of the confusing aspects of the culture, I came to love karate.
Karate is not just a one-time thing for some people; it can easily become their LIVES. If you go in to something new, especially something so mentally and physically overtaking as martial arts, with an attitude of just going along with it, then that is all you will do. You won’t absorb the knowledge nor even begin to grasp the true nature of the art. If you want to better yourself and gain knowledge, you actually need to think and believe that you will persevere, do the best you can, and “push through the envelope” as my father says.
Anyway, so that is where my journey started. Belt by belt came and went, each with its own specialty of which I adored with as much ambition as I did with the actual way of life. From learning the seven ways of the warrior, to the way of bushido, and all the way to new katas and self-defenses, I enjoyed it.
However, just like with the ethic “know my strengths and work on my weaknesses together”, I had some flaws, and still do. I remember when I started my yellow belt journey I was so afraid of sparring. The thought of hitting each other didn’t sit right with me. I later learned the lesson I described earlier (go in with ambition, not hesitation), which helped me a lot.
Then the belts continued, through blue (of which offered my first tournament) and to purple. Purple was an interesting belt. Not only was I able to go to a couple of really good tournaments and start to learn the bo staff, but I also earned my blue gi. The blue gi was a big achievement on my part. I was, have been, and forever will be so enthusiastic about helping others with their own journey to the mountain. It gives me a sense of joy when I help someone learn and absorb the same material that has helped my own perception, definition, and learning of the aspects of karate and of the actual art itself.
My journey continued again. Next came purple two, which contained the nunchaku, which is still my favorite weapon to date. This belt level allowed me to gain more knowledge of the martial art, just like all of the others. Then came brown one, which started me on the internship program. The internship program, for private lessons, has allowed me to help others at the dojo even more. Yet, when I help other karate-ka, I end up learning myself. I noticed that each time I help, not only do I help the progress of a student and gain a sense of joy, but I learn more about the martial art itself, different ways to help others, and also some aspects that could benefit my own training. So, I give a huge thanks to everyone that has allowed and to those who will eventually allow me to help them. It is a huge honor for me to help you on your journey.
Next came brown two. My, my…brown two has been very, very interesting. So much work for a strip of tape on your brown one…but it was DEFINITELY worth it. Belts and tape are just material; they are just physical objects. However, they represent something even more important. They represent your knowledge and that you strove and pushed through that envelope as hard as you could to achieve something. This is something to be commended for. Do not pay attention to the color of the belt, pay attention to the theories, the memory of moves, katas, self-defenses, etc., and the more “mental” elements of that achievement and of earning something. The belt color doesn’t really matter; it’s what’s inside and your perception of the whole deal that matters.
Brown two has been one of the most innovative and important for me. For instance, I have been able to greatly expand my knowledge of Brazilian Jujitsu. This has helped kick start me on trying to learn different katas and even different styles of martial arts. This belt level experience has allowed me to improve on one of my weaknesses, two footed jump kicks (jumping with two feet instead of one then the other).
Overall, I could not tell you which one of the belt levels and experiences was my favorite. They have all showed me new aspects of this wonderful way of life, all of which I value equally because they all contribute to my knowledge. Karate has been such a motivation for self-confidence and a new way of life that I cannot begin to even think about ever giving it up.
I would like to thank my parents, Chris and Kyle, for taking the time out of their precious days to drive my brother and me to and from the dojo day after day for five years, although it feels more like one week. You two have, as I have noticed, actually started to learn quite a bit of the ethics and morals of karate. I am glad to have both of you as parents; in fact I am absolutely thrilled and filled with joy. You are the best parents a 15 year old stubborn boy could ask for, and trust me, that means A LOT. I love both of you with all of my heart. Bro…you and I have been in this from the beginning. We have been training partners since and I am very honored and humbled to have such a fantastic training partner and brother. You probably have never realized it but I am very thankful for your input and support with critiquing. You have helped me learn so much that there is nothing that I could give in return for your help, because there is nothing of such importance to give you (this also applies to my parents). Love you dude J.
Sensei and Kristina, you two have been the most amazing, talented, and kind senseis there ever have been. I thank you so much for accepting my family into the dojo and passing along your information and knowledge. It is very humbling to be able to train under both of you and to be able to learn all of the ethics, morals, and techniques that karate has to offer. I cannot thank you enough… OSS! To Chad, Jared, Grant, Hunter, Cameron, Barb, and Gabi, I thank you all so much. You have helped me through this journey so far and I am much honored to have met you all. Again, I cannot thank you enough; you have made such an impact on my martial arts journey.
I also thank the Lord. He has given me so much strength and mind capacity to be able to do this. He has helped me shape my destiny to the way I have chosen, which is overwhelming but at the same time the most gratifying one I could hope for. Thank you Lord, so very, very much. So, to everyone, as one last note, I am looking forward to train with all of the karate-ka that will be willing to do so with me, I am honored to have been and will be able to train with you, and I cannot wait for what the future holds. Black Belt Mountain…here I come. OSS!