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By Abhay Chathuruthy

Over four years ago I was enrolled into karate, because I was bullied at school. Obviously, I told my parents about it, but their reaction was much different than I anticipated. I thought they were just going to tell the parents of the person who physically hurt me. But instead they decided to enroll me into karate for me to stand up for myself, and I am very thankful they did that.
When I first started karate I thought getting a black belt was the end, but now that I am almost at that point, I think much differently about it. I always thought a black belt was just given after a certain period (no work needed). I finally know that a black belt must be hard earned. I also realize that karate can be a lifelong passion. I never thought I would make it this far, but I am so proud of myself for reaching this point even if there were a few bumps in the road.
I can’t lie- karate is hard, and a few times I felt it was too hard for me to handle. One time I started feeling so much stress knowing I had to memorize katas, techniques, and other things for my test. I then decided to ask my dad if I could quit. But thankfully he refused to let me quit and told me to finish what I started. He offered that if I wanted to quit, I can do so the day before my black belt test. I first felt mad that he wouldn’t let me quit, but now that I think about it, I am very grateful he said that, and I certainly don’t plan on quitting now.

Sparring has also been a very important part of my training. It has made me very confident in being able to defend myself. It has helped me to improve my observation skills, reflexes, concentration and endurance. Sparring helps me to handle myself in stressful situations. It also trained me to make split second decisions.

Karate has helped me in the competitive scene as well. I had the great opportunity to take part in local and international competitions and win. I even took part in the wrong competition and ended up in the top 5 list. The international competitions have helped me to compete with talented people across the countries boosting my confidence. I am very thankful to the Sensis who helped me to prepare for the competitions and to my parents who always supported me during the it.

I have been working hard for my black belt test and am very close to reaching my goal. I practice almost every day and watch tutorials on how to do the katas properly. To me a black belt is an accomplishment, but it is not the end, it’s more like the beginning of a new journey. I have learned many things thanks to karate: self-defense, leadership, never give up, always have fun, and team spirit. It is also a great form of exercise and keeps me fit. Thanks to karate I feel confident in my ability to stand up for myself. In the future, if I face difficult situations, I know that with hard work and perseverance I can overcome any challenge. I also learned that you should always have a growth mindset and stay positive.

In conclusion, a black belt is a form of growth. At first, I was never confident and never stood up for myself when I should have. But now I feel like a new person- feeling confident and always standing up for myself. I know not to make the same mistake twice and will continue to do martial arts. I am very thankful toward my parents and sensei’s for helping me come this far. I am looking forward to the journey ahead, and hope to help others reach this goal.