Getting to my First Degree Black Belt test has been a long journey and I have learned many lessons along the way. In the process of getting here, quite a bit has happened. I started at AmeriKick in Haddon Heights and then moved to the new studio in Blackwood. There have been times I’ve wanted to quit, but I got back up and continued. Two of the most important lessons I have learned through my Junior and Senior belts have been perseverance and patience. Since earning my Black Belt, the katas and forms have gotten more difficult. I have continued to work hard to learn and practice, even when I wanted to give up. This has also helped me to remember never give up in school or other sports when things get tough.

I have learned honesty, strength, determination, knowledge, and courtesy in karate class. Being a black belt means you must be a leader both at karate and in everyday life. You have to be honest to be a good leader or no one would trust you. Honesty is an important quality for everyone, whether they are in a leadership role or not. If you had a friend, you probably wouldn’t want to hang out with them often in they were always lying. The same can be said for a leader, as I wouldn’t trust what my teachers and Senseis say if I didn’t trust them. A black belt also means strength. If you are not strong, you cannot make a strong or fast punch to defend yourself. You also would not be able to make a good block. If you cannot block, there is no reason to learn all the attacks in class. This is something that I learned from Sensei Mike, throughout my years in his classes, and especially as one of his black belts.

I have learned that being a black belt means having determination. If you ever want to become anything in this life, you must be determined to do so. I know that this is a skill I will be able to use outside of karate. If you are not determined, you might think you can’t do or get better at something, even if it outright isn’t true. I’ve also learned that a black belt also means having knowledge. You need to be smart to remember the forms and techniques you learn in class. You must memorize techniques, their names, the attacks, and how to do them, on top of katas and other forms. Now that I have this knowledge, I know that I will always have it when I needed. By staying calm and determined, the skills I have learned will be with me forever.

Having a black belt means that I need to be courteous and respectful at all times. If you are not courteous, you cannot gain your parents, friends, families, coaches, or Sensei’s respect. I learned this as a white belt when I had to follow my Sensei’s directions, and still do today. When you do not show respect to others, people may not trust you. A black belt also means always acting with integrity. It means you must be true to yourself and always do the right thing. I learned that I need to set an example and be a leader in class. I have learned that I am expected to act as a good role-model for other students. This does not only mean in the karate studio. A Black Belt represents their school and their Sensei at all times and should be an example.

I have also learned that having a black belt means having self-control. You need to be able to pay attention and stay positive when learning new moves. It also means you have to stay calm when you are being corrected during class. This has not always been easy for me because I sometimes have a bad temper. My mom told me she put me in karate when I was 4 so I would learn these skills. Karate has taught me to control myself so I won’t get in trouble. It has taken a long time to learn all of these lessons and I continue to work on them as I prepare for my First Degree Black Belt with AmeriKick. The most important lesson is that everything I have learned as a Black Belt with AmeriKick are important skills to use to be successful in life.