I have been a member of Amerikick Martial Arts since I was 3 ½ years old. Over the last 8 years of my black belt journey, I have been building my self-defense skills and have incorporated the black belt principles of modesty, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, indomitable spirit, and self-discipline into my daily life. Being a black belt means that you are an example for others, demonstrating leadership qualities and holding yourself to very high standards. In this essay I will be sharing some of the ways I have demonstrated these qualities.
When I was in 5th grade, I earned a special award in my elementary school because others noticed that I had demonstrated modesty and integrity in my behavior. During dismissal time, there are student safety officers whose job it is to make sure younger children are safely escorted to and seated on their appropriate buses. I was not a safety officer, but I noticed that some children were not being properly directed to their buses. This concerned me, so I took the task upon myself to ensure that those younger kids were taken care of so that everybody stayed safe. I did not expect any kind of recognition nor did I report that the student safety officer was not fulfilling his or her responsibilities. I was simply doing what I knew was right. Either the bus driver or one of the teachers noticed because I was presented with the school’s quarterly citizenship award at an assembly. This came as a complete surprise to me, and I was truly grateful.
Being courteous is a behavior that has been ingrained in me from a very early age at home, in school, in religious education class and certainly at Amerikick. Showing courtesy at all times is a must. During class at Amerikick, I show respect for my sensei by listening to instructions and trying my best. Sometimes I am surprised at the lack of courtesy shown by my peers. For example, my homeroom teacher recently asked for a volunteer to set up the projector each morning so that we can view and hear the daily announcements. I was one of the few who volunteered. It never even occurred to me not to raise my hand. Again, I was simply following my basic code of conduct, and was happy to help out, but my teacher thought enough of my actions to thank me with a positive contribution acknowledgement. When I receive thanks for simple kindnesses like those that I have described, I realize how important good manners and behavior are in our day to day activities.
I have gained much experience in perseverance and indomitable spirit. It takes a lot of energy and focus in order to succeed in martial arts, soccer and playing a musical instrument. Giving up is not acceptable in any of the three activities. When you want to give up because you are frustrated, you just have to decide to power through the difficulties instead. Thankfully, I have not yet found a spot in my life where giving up was an option. My senseis, teachers, instructors, coaches and family always cheer me on and encourage me to put forth my best effort and to strive to do better. I appreciate all of the support and will continue to be the best black belt, soccer player and clarinet player I can possibly be.
Having self-discipline is the trait that I have the most trouble mastering. It is hard to resist the temptation of playing video games, watching TV, and socializing with my friends before doing my chores, homework, or practicing any of my activities such as katas, self-defense and weapons or picking up my clarinet and spending time learning my music and scales. I constantly remind myself that it is important to have my priorities in order and that once I have taken care of my responsibilities it is okay to have fun.
Finally, I would like to say that I am grateful that although I have been trained in the art of self-defense, there have been only a couple of occasions where I have had to use those skills to protect myself from harm. I have the good fortune of living in a safe environment, but I know there are lots of kids who are not this lucky. Thank you, Amerikick, for helping me to be strong and confident and to be a good person with excellent character. I will continue on with my black belt studies, knowing that these skills are going to help guide me throughout the rest of my life.