When I first joined karate at 11 years old, the thought of becoming a Black Belt never even occurred to me. I thought I would learn some cool tricks to show my friends. Now I realize that being a Black Belt is much more than a bunch of fancy moves. Some people think that karate is a way of life. They might be right, or have their own opinions, but to me karate is not a way of life, it is a part of life. I’m at the dojo four days a week and it feels like home. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like without karate, and now that I am testing for my Black Belt, it feels even more like home.
Part of being a Black Belt means you must be mentally and physically prepared. You also have to have lots of self-control. You can’t just walk into your school and chop up your teacher. You should try not to pick fights, even if you know you will win. That isn’t what karate is about. It’s just the opposite—self-discipline. To be physically prepared, you have to train long and hard hours before you are ready. You also have to condition yourself, because if you don’t then you will wear out to quickly. Being a Black Belt also means not quitting. No matter how hard whatever you are doing is, don’t give up. Push through with everything you have, no matter how long it takes.
As a kid, I remember always hearing Chuck Norris Jokes about how strong he is. I also remember hearing about Bruce Lee, and how he is an unstoppable ninja. I thought that all Black Belts are like that. I realize now, that isn’t what Black Belts are. They aren’t unstoppable, but they just don’t give up. They will fight until it’s over, and not get scared and run away, no matter how many bumps and bruises they get.
One of my favorite parts of karate is that no one is self-centered, and it is about encouraging each other. I have never experienced a day at karate where I was made fun of or insulted. Everybody is nice to everybody. I think it is because we all aspire to be Black Belts. I try to live out the Black Belt Creed by building good character, telling the truth, and getting stronger. I also try to treat everyone with respect, to help others learn karate, and to try my best to act like a Black Belt.
A major part of encouraging others is believing in yourself. If not, you will never get anywhere. Being a Black Belt means that you have to train for years, which can be a tough decision. You also need to set a good precedent so people who follow in your footsteps will know how to act. If you have physical limitations, then you should strive to be better, not complain about where you are now. If you strive to become better, then you will be better, unless you put yourself down.
Being in Super Winning Attitude Team (S.W.A.T.) has helped me develop my Black Belt attitude. As my self-confidence has gotten better, I have also learned how to encourage others. Helping others improve their techniques has helped me improve my own. Part of being a Black Belt is being available when I am needed and willing to help. I also take pride in being on S.W.A.T. I remember when I just started karate and thought that everyone on S.W.A.T. was invincible. Now I understand what an impact I can have on kids that want to be Black Belts.
To some people, being a Black Belt just means being able to kick high and knock people out. But to me, it means always striving to be better, never giving up, setting a great example, exceeding my limitations—no matter how high they are, and gaining self-discipline. It always has meant that to me, and it always will.