Started training January 2007 at age 32, tested for black belt July 2013 at age 39.
Black Belt Speech:
What does it take to get a black belt? Does it take countless numbers of punches, kicks and katas? Yes, but more. Does it take hours upon hours of class time? Yes, but more. Does it take sacrificing time away from friends and family to train? Yes, but much more. Does it require pushing yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of and crushing imaginary limits you place on yourself? Yes, but even more. Does it involve reaching down to the vary depths of your own being and exposing your very core, your essence, your heart and soul. Yes, but so much more.
It is impossible to put into words. No one will ever fully understand what I went through to get my black belt. My fellow black belts understand more than most. But the journey is for each of us is different.
Just as with our lives. My story is uniquely my own. Our strengths and weaknesses each our own. The journey for me was everything I needed but many things I didn’t want. It was all I had imagined and yet nothing I had expected. It was the thing I loved and hated most. Thousands of kicks, katas and kihons leading me to a monumental moment in time. But in the end it was more about who I was, who I had become. It was an epic battle. A full on war. I fought many demons, slayed several dragons, was nearly consumed. As a mighty storm raged I was left standing victorious. I pummeled my fears and stabbed my self-doubt in the heart. I silenced that little voice of “no” for good. I am capable of anything.
Thank you to all my friends and family for your support, encouragement, love and patience through this long journey. Without that I never would have made it. To Sensei Brian, thank you for believing in me before I believed in myself. More than anything else, it was knowing that you saw the black belt inside me that got me all the way to the top of the mountain. Oss.
If you are out there wondering if you have what it takes, (what ever your mountain may be) know that you do. Just believe in yourself as much as your sensei believes in you, and never, ever give up. I am simply a white belt that never quit.