Black Belt Essay
Nearly 3 years ago I began this life changing journey of experiencing all that Taekwondo and NEXTStep Martial Arts has had to offer me. Sometimes when people ask how or why I started the martial arts, they expect some kind of deep and meaningful answer. To be honest, it was nothing like that for me. I simply wanted to find something to devote myself to and Master Jay began to teach me everything martial arts had to offer. As many of you know, his training goes far beyond just the kicks and punches and I immediately fell in love with it.
Martial arts has always been a vehicle of self-expression for me. It allows me to put my emotions into a movement and figure out my own unique way of perfecting it. But most of all, martial arts has allowed me to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with myself. It has given me the opportunity to see myself through an honest lens. Just as it is important to have strong relationships with the people around you, I believe it is equally as important to have a profound relationship with yourself. Although this took me a long time to understand, martial arts has taught me that no matter how hard I try I can never be perfect. Moreover, it has shown me that it’s ok to be imperfect. At times I can definitely be overly self-critical and too focused on my own abilities. Learning to stop comparing myself to others or my own made up image has been extremely valuable to me. Being imperfect is part of being human and martial arts have not only lead me to accept that, but also build upon it and allow me to understand myself more fully.
Being an athletic young man, the physical elements of martial arts have always come easy to me. In my training, overcoming the mental barriers has always been the greatest challenge for me. Being patient was always something I did, and still do, struggle with. I was always in a hurry to learn the next kick, next form, next anything! I just wanted to absorb everything immediately instead of taking the time to appreciate the journey. This restlessness eventually led to me hurting my back from overtraining and delayed my black belt test by about 4 months. I guess this was karma’s way of teaching me a lesson in patience. Although at the time I was extremely frustrated, I know now that I wasn’t mentally prepared to earn my black belt. Having to wait gave me time to really appreciate my training and was an experience I have learned much from.
Of my accomplishments, I am most proud of my status as an instructor at NEXTStep Martial Arts. Being able to take what I have learned and use it to help others has been an incredible privilege. It is tremendously rewarding to see other students grow and succeed after working with them one on one. Teaching was never an easy skill to learn however it is something I have always been determined to master. Although I have so much to still learn, seeing myself transform from being nervous and timid, to being able to teach a studio full of students with confidence is something I am incredibly proud of.
My journey as a martial artist is only now beginning. As I reflect on the past 3 years, I can see the benefit martial arts has had on my life. Now that I have achieved my black belt, I can open an exciting new chapter in my training that will lead me to new levels of learning. I look forward to the challenge of understanding what being a black belt truly means and applying the philosophy of the martial arts to my life.