Brown Belt Essay April 2022. George K.
The dojo has been a prevalent part of my life for the last decade. I started my training when I was eight years old, and I am now 18 so I have spent a good portion of my adolescent years involved with the dojo. Just like anything, if you do it for long enough there are going to be pleasant moments but there will also be challenging ones. Throughout my time at the dojo, I believe I have learned a lot as person and as a martial artist, as well as overcoming challenges to some capacity. With that being said, there is still more for me to accomplish within the walls of the dojo. I have yet to finish my journey in karate and am motivated to continue practicing as a martial artist. However, to truly understand my future aspirations we must first examine the triumphant events that have led me here, as well as the challenging ones.
I have spent my developing years practicing karate, and it has taught me and influenced me in a multitude of ways. The first major takeaway from years of training is how competitive it has made me. Always striving for the best is something that has echoed down from sensei, through the ranks and that has resonated with me both in and outside of the dojo. I have learned to always try to be number one at everything I do and have applied that in whatever else I pursue outside of the dojo. Whether it be at school, work, or any other extracurricular, always striving to be the best is something that is at the forefront of my mind. Whether it is push-ups, kata, or running laps of the floor, Sensei and many of my sempais have always pushed me to be my best. Pairing these teachings up with being a younger sibling and always chasing Dimitri, my hunger for competition will always be a part of who I am. Along with my competitive nature come the core values instilled in all practitioners of karate. Things like discipline, courtesy, and respect, are all virtues that have been stressed since my days as a white belt and have yet to recede as my days as a blue belt.
Throughout the last decade of training, I have encountered many challenges when it comes to training. The most recent one that I believe everyone can relate to is the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic caused the dojo to shut its doors on numerous occasions throughout the last two years, putting a halt on all training. This unfortunate string of events made it a very difficult time to train. Uncertainty was high and nobody could predict when training would resume and when it would halt again. This impacted the students, including myself, who were looking to grade for their next belts because the initial closure of the dojo was right before the grading. With perseverance and determination, we made it through the lockdown and proceeded with the grading which was a challenge in itself. The virus was still fairly new and so the boundaries of what we could and could not do were unclear. This made for a unique, oneof-a-kind grading which I am thankful for as it taught me quite a bit about myself. It showed me a level of perseverance I did not know I possessed. Having to train through closures and lockdowns was difficult but I believe it strengthened my will and determination. Looking back on my training as a whole and I can whole heartedly say that the pandemic was the most unique challenge I have had to face, however may not have been the most challenging.
The biggest challenge that I have faced throughout my training has taken place in the build-up to this upcoming grading and is the maintenance of a balance of schedule. I am currently in my first year of university, taking a full course load which demands the majority of my time. It is certainly different to balancing high school and training however with an adjustment it is manageable. Along with a full course load I maintain a job, working three shifts per week which is another priority I must maintain. Add training inside and outside of the dojo and my time is limited. Along with all this, over the last month we have been preparing and renovating our house to move. What does this have to do with anything you may ask? Well, all the renovations were done in house, no one was hired. My dad was in constant need of assistance and both Dimitri and I allocated a large amount of time to helping him renovate. My time was spread throughout a variety of things and allocating enough time for everything became very difficult. There were many days that started early and ended with me writing papers till the late hours of the night. Going from school to work and then coming home to renovations was very difficult and kept me extremely busy. On top of this all, all of these tasks were and are taking place during major times at school. I had to find time to train around final paper due dates and midterms, as well as the grading is in the middle of all of my final exams. I am proud of the way I was able to manage this workload and am now at the tail end of it all. Training throughout what seemed to be the busiest time of my life was certainly a challenge, but it is also one of my greatest achievements.
Although 10 years of training may seem like a lot to some, when looking at it through much broader scope, there is far more to be done. With the future goal of earning a black belt at the dojo, this upcoming grading will put me one step closer to achieving such. For some the end goal might be to earn their black belt and their training resides there, and that is not a problem. However, I hope to maintain some form of activity at the dojo after achieving my black belt. Life takes over and it can become increasingly difficult to train however I believe I will always find time to train at the dojo. It is something that has become a habit in my life, every Monday and Wednesday from 6:30-8 is time to train. With the values and lessons, I have been taught throughout my time at the dojo, there is no doubt that my training will continue no matter the belt or age, it is something that is simply a part of me and my evolution as a martial artist.