Started training in August 2005, age 6. Tested for black belt July 2014, age 15.
Black Belt Speech:
WOW. Where to begin? This journey is one that can not be explained with words, you must complete it yourself to understand. But I will do my best to sum up my experience.
About 9 years ago, at 6 years old, I took the very first class at the dojo. Sports had so far not worked out for me. But I instantly fell in love with Karate. The thought, that I was going to learn how to fight was awesome, to my 6 year old brain. But little did I know that it meant so much more than just fighting. The next 9 years were filled with ups, and downs. But it has ultimately molded me into who I am now.
Lets fast forward about 6 years, to my Red Belt test. Up until then, karate was still a game. I still did it for the fun. That would all change in about 5 hours. Leading up to this test, I had seen some skilled martial artists test to Red belt. Including Dylan who I had tested with for the last few years. And honestly it looked amazing. I was extremely excited for it. I was testing with two great friends, and martial artists, Seth and Jordan. But then the test actually happened. Although I really don't remember much of the test itself, I know that it killed me. It hit me like a brick wall. All of a sudden Karate went from a fun game to a way of life. I knew, that in order to make it to black belt, I was going to have to give so much more than I had given before. After that test, I made the decision to live by the 7 virtues, Honor, Honesty, Justice, Courtesy, Compassion, Duty and Courage.
After a few months of enjoying Red Belt, and learning the new Red Belt curriculum. Dylan and I started training with each other for Jr. Black Belt. For the first time, I started concentrating on training daily. I was constantly running through Katas both mirror image and regular form. Before we knew it, Sensei gave us the date for the test. During that final countdown, Gabi, Barb and I started training with Sensei Bill Holman, from Bend karate club. This training helped me immensely with the test. Sensei Bill taught me multiple new katas, and showed me how to breath while executing a form. We learned this new style in about 4 months. Dylan and I tested for Jr. Black on march 3rd, 2012. It was an outstanding experience. Through out the test, we fed off each others energy, and used each other to succeed. It was a huge turning point in my martial arts journey. I learned to give everything I had to everything I do. To never leave anything behind. This new trait would help immensely in the next 1 ½ years.
While laying low for two years at Jr. Black, the curriculum changed. There were new self defenses, katas were moved to different belt levels, and jui jitsu was added. Jui jitsu was the most difficult thing for me to learn. Without someone to work on it with me daily, I had a lot of trouble getting it down . Not to mention I just didn't like it. I remember hating it when Sensei said the words, "free grapple" in class. But, after many months of studying, and practicing, I started to enjoy it. Learning more and more every time I went class. Eventually jui jitsu began to become something I looked forward to. Also during this period, I began to become better friends with more of the higher belts. Connecting and learning with them, on and off the mats. While attending a class called trix I met Grant, and Evan. Both of whom are amazingly sharp and dedicated martial artists. I loved getting together and training with Dylan, Evan, Grant, and Gabi. It was the summer of 2013 and I thought I was ready for Black Belt. I remember talking with Dylan, Grant and Evan about how "we thought we were ready" for the task. And when I heard that I wasn't testing for Black Belt, I was utterly disappointed, and confused. But as always, Sensei was right to hold us back one more year. I started to look forward to the next year, and not live in the past. In the winter of 2013, I started to train outside of karate. I started running, and doing crossfit workouts. As it neared spring, I was feeling great. I had finally gotten the new curriculum down, and I was in the best shape of my life. Then Sensei told Grant, Evan, Dylan, and I that we were testing to Black Belt. Freak out time! Black belt was among us.
Although this was exactly what I had wanted, all of a sudden I was second guessing whether I was ready for such a task. So, the 4 of us quickly decided that we would train together every Saturday until the test. This was the beginning of the most amazing experience of my life. Every week we would find new ways to push ourselves. Going to new places, doing new workouts, quizzing each other, and doing everything we could to prepare for what was about to come. Those weeks are ones that I will never forget. I could not ask to have trained with a better group of friends. I enjoyed those weeks of training more than anything else. We were the perfect combo of cautious and reckless. We evened each other out. Together we climbed endless mountains, both mental and physical. To all of the upcoming candidates I highly recommend consistently training outdoors, with your fellow candidates. During this training, I conquered endless physical, and mental, fears. And then Before we knew it , it was test time. Even after 3 out trips, It still didn't feel real to me, I couldn't picture myself as a Black Belt. I went in to that day, ready for whatever it would throw at me. Convinced that we would succeed. And although I can not tell you anything about it, I will tell you that IT IS AMAZING. It taught me endless traits and skills. It has put me in the state of mind that no matter what the task, I can complete it. Whether that task is school, work, or whatever, it doesn't matter. It is the decision to never give up. The journey is something I truly wish everybody could experience.
And now to the mushy stuff. First of all I want to thank the Lord for allowing me to experience this. I want to thank all of my karate family, that includes all of the the lower belts, and higher belts, throughout my journey.
I want to thank Hunter, Galen, Max, Josh, Jeremiah, and Jared, you have all helped me in more ways than you know, and I look forward to watching you take the next step in your journey.
I want to thank my long time training partners, and great friends Barb, and Gabi. For always being there, and helping me countless times.
A Huge thank you to all of the amazing Black Belts for mentoring, and helping me. And now for my Black Belt brothers.
Grant - You amaze me with your love, and knowledge, of not just karate but many other styles of martial arts. Thank you for always being there when I had a question, you are a truly gifted martial artist. And a great friend!
Evan - Thank you for your cautiousness, I am sure that without you there we would all be dead. Like Grant I can always expect for you to know the answer to my questions. Thank you for being a great friend!
Dylan - Thank you for always being there for me. You are truly the brother I never had. our 8+ years of training have been awesome, and I look forward to what is next. Also, I have enjoyed having you be my own personal wrestling coach! Thanks man!
Thank you guys, I couldn't ask for a better group of friends to have tested with.
To the amazing Kristina, I don't know how you do everything you do so well!
And to the most amazing Sensei, mentor, and role model I could ever ask for. Brian I cannot thank you enough for everything that you have taught and showed me. I look forward to many more years of training, and learning with you!
Thank you to my awesome grandparents, for their never ending support, and always being there to help me.
Thank you to my mom and dad, for not only allowing me to take this journey, and driving me in from Redmond thousands of times over the last 9 years, but also for their never ending support and advice. I love you guys.
And to my sister Caitlin for always being there, and being a nice punching bag at home.
I love and thank you all!
Phillipians 4:13 - “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Sunday, July 13, 2014