Back in 1994 I was attending night school, and one of my classmates mentioned she was taking karate lessons nearby. It sounded like fun, and out of curiosity I stopped by and met Mr. Fariborz. I did not commit to lessons until two months later when three gang members tried to steal company merchandise from me. We yelled back and forth, and though no fighting ensued, I decided I needed to learn some self-defense just in case.
I returned to Team Karate Centers and have, since December 22, 1994, learned many life lessons as well.
I became a First Degree Black Belt on September 26, 1998. My testing experience was highly personal one, in which I learned that I can always manage my time in order to work on something if I want it badly enough. I also realized that I could do and become anything I desire.
My Second Degree experience two years later, on September 16, 2000, was more shared. Appreciation for my teammates success helped me learn to focus better on my own goals, expectations, and priorities.
Finally in 2008, I tested for my third degree black belt, and it was an experience like no other. I put forth so much effort and achieved such a feeling of accomplishment like never before. Even more, I learned that I can do much more than I previously thought; that the connections we have with the people around us are very powerful; that as a black belt I am empowered more than the ordinary person. I know there are great possibilities ahead for me.
About the time I was a brown belt (in 1998), I began assisting Saturday morning classes. I quickly realized the power of teaching. When I teach, I go beyond techniques to help others learn about themselves. When I see a child smile after they successfully attempt a skill for the first time, I see their potential toward learning many more things to come in life, both on and off the mat. Its now 2015, and I continue to be involved any way I can.
To me, Black Belt Excellence means being my best. My best. There is a standard we must all achieve, but my best is going to be different from another’s. Not just in regard to my martial arts training, but in all things, at all times. I think back to all the heroes that have influenced my life: Sensei Fariborz, Master Steve Sexton, General Douglas MacArthur, General George S. Patton, my mother and father, and my sisters Mary and Sally.
This is truly what martial arts is about.
And I thought I was just going to learn a couple of neat moves to defend myself with!