When you first started karate, what was a hope you had about earning your black belt? What did you imagine that would be like? How would it change your life?
When I first started training I wasn’t looking all that far ahead. During my first year of training my mom and brother were with me so I saw it as more of something that I could do with my family. As I got on, I started getting really interested in the character development and fitness aspects of karate. And the more I saw the black belts preform the more inspired I was to keep training so I could do what they could. I wanted to earn my black belt because I knew that getting there would push me to become a better person, because I wanted to be able to do more, and largely because karate was something I enjoyed doing a lot.
What are some actual challenges of earning a black belt and what have you learned from those challenges?
A big one for me is wanting to stop. It’s something that happens to everyone. At some point you’ll have a time where you don’t want to continue with your training, whether it’s because you get demotivated, because you feel like it’s out of reach or because you don’t want to work yourself too hard.
It’s important to not quit as soon as you feel like it because eventually you’ll find something that’ll encourage you to keep going. I had a time in my training when I wanted to stop, but once that stage was past, I was more driven than ever to keep going.
Sometimes it’s hard to accept that we can’t do it all on our own, but teammates are always there for you and will be with you the whole way, and you have to do it together. That makes training feel so much better and easier, and you’ll make great friends with your team.
How would you describe your approach to karate instruction and leadership? What have you learned from your instructors?
I think it’s important to show students the technique that’d be most helpful in a practical situation, to show why we do what we do in karate. I teach moves in detail while also demonstrating them visually. Everybody learns differently so to teach a class you have to do it in a way everyone can understand. The most important thing is to make sure that the class stays fun and engaging throughout but also to make sure that the students are still learning and respecting everything.
What would you say to a new white belt student who you want to see earn their black belt?
A great saying that we have in karate is “a black belt is a white belt who never quit.” There’s nobody out there who can’t earn a black belt. Of course, you won’t be ready for a black belt test the instant you step into the school, but when the time comes, if you’ve worked hard, shown dedication and practiced, you will earn the black belt. It’s not a question of can you do it, it’s will you put in the effort to earn it?
Because if you do, your black belt is well within your reach.