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I started with Amerikick as a cardio student, kicking and punching my way into fitness. The nights I was doing cardio class my husband, Steve, would be putting on his belt and going to his karate class. I would watch him and think ‘how could that be fun’. It wasn’t until I saw the sparring class that karate really peaked my interest. I thought to myself, sparring my husband could really be a lot of fun. So I put my cardio gloves down, put on my uniform, and tied on my white belt. Sparring soon became one of my favorite classes and with that my journey towards black belt began. As I quickly advanced through the belt ranks, I began to think about what it would mean to receive my black belt. To me black belt means taking a trip with my husband to Africa, being a higher rank than my kids, and knowing that if I set my mind to something, then I can achieve anything.

All my life I have lived in the shadows of my family of black belts. My husband and children had achieved theirs years before me. My nephews had even obtained their black belts, so I knew I had to do something. Once I dipped my toes into the pool of karate with sparring classes, I knew that I wanted to continue in the direction of my black belt. I needed to step into the light with the rest of my family. To help motivate me to continue, my husband also said that we could take my dream trip to Africa. He said that when he got his black belt, he went on his trip to Bora Bora, so it would only be fair that I got a trip as well. All of these things were great, however, I knew that if I achieved this great feat then that would be the best feeling of all. I would know that I had went through this journey on my own accord.

Overall, my experience as a martial arts student has made me into the person I am today. I have discovered what a black belt truly means to me and I will be forever thankful that I was able to overcome all the challenging obstacles in my path. As a white belt, black belt seemed as though it would take forever to achieve. It took a lot of dedication and hard work, especially between work, family and life. I discovered that martial arts and working toward your black belt is a big commitment. However, once you come to the end of your current journey you look back and say, “that wasn’t so bad”. Now I look forward to the future and continuing my training towards my next degree. I have a lot more to learn, but that makes my next adventure all the more exciting.

I just wanted to give a quick thank you to Sensei Nick, Sensei Steve, Sensei Ron and Sensei Amy. They have really helped me throughout this long journey and I appreciate all of the their patience and dedication. I also wanted to thank my daughter, Sensei Haley, who helped me write this essay and supported me through my martial arts career.