Started training in January 2010. Tested for black belt July 2016.
Black Belt Speech:
In June of 2014 I tested for and received my red belt. Up until this point black belt had never really seemed real. But it then became very real. The mountain was next. After 7 rank tests in the dojo it was all that was left. For almost 2 years I prepared tirelessly for this mysterious test. I watched the groups before me go through it and come out changed on the other end and it was both daunting and inspiring. Then in April of this year the contract was presented. Signing it meant there was no turning back. I had made it this far, and the final four tests were here. I had put the countless hours of training in. My sensei believed in me, and I believed in myself.
The last 4 months have been the most mentally and physically demanding months of my life. There’s really no way to put it into words. To try to explain it would be meaningless. No one can understand how crazy, exhausting and intense the out trips and the test are unless you’ve been through it. To survive and pass each one knowing the next one is only a few weeks away. Everything you think it is, it isn’t. You’re pushed to a place you could never get to on your own, a place where you question everything and doubt your ability to push through. You’re taken to a breaking point where only you get to decide – break, or keep going. That is the monumental life lesson - that we’re capable of more than we could ever imagine. That we’re capable of facing our fears and silencing and crushing any self doubt. That “I can’t” doesn’t exist. That you can always push a little harder. That you can always go a little further. That you can conquer anything you put your mind to.
I started training in karate to learn self-defense and to try something that I’d always wanted to do. I didn’t start training to earn a black belt. It was never the goal. At most it was a distant thought like “yeah maybe someday.” It had no significance to me. But now that I’m here I’m both humble and proud. To stand before you all a Bushido Kai Black Belt means so much to me - because of everything it represents. Every time I tie this belt around my waist I will do so with honor. Honor for myself. Honor for my fellow students. Honor for my fellow black belts. Honor for my sensei, and honor for sensei Stuart.
What I’ve got out of this journey, the way it’s changed me, and what it has taught me about myself is more than I ever could have imagined. This is something I identify with and love unlike anything else I have ever known or had. Karate has become a part of me. Bushido has become a way of life.
I could spend hours thanking everyone, so I’ll keep it brief:
Thank you to all my friends and family who have supported me on this long journey and for being here today. It’s way too many people to mention. I appreciate and am grateful for you all.
Thank you to all my fellow students of all belt levels – you guys are inspiring and rock. I can’t wait to see you on the Mountain one day.
Thank you to Hunter and Cole. I’m so proud of you guys. We did it - Together. Black belt brothers for life.
Thank you to all my fellow black belts who have paved the way and set the bar oh so high. I admire and look up to every single one of you.
Sensei Brian – There’s no words.. Thank you for everything you are. Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for laying the path and allowing me to walk it. Thank you for believing in me, even at times when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for always pushing and inspiring me to be the best I can be. Thank you for being you. I love you my friend, more than you’ll ever know.