Dear Mr. Fariborz,
My attention on school has been at an all time high for the past few months. For a recent essay in my English class, we were asked to write a draft of an essay for our future College Application. My entire essay was about the impact Team Karate Centers, and you, have had in my life. I thought you might enjoy reading it. The essay is below.
Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?
An atmosphere of fighting does not sound ideal for a child”s developing mind, yet I evolved physically and mentally into the person I am today in pursuit of a black belt in martial arts. At the age of ten, I entered a dojo – a karate studio – for the first time. Kyoshi Fariborz, the owner of the studio, knelt down and spoke to me as if he were speaking to an adult. The atmosphere of the studio captured me. The methodical chaos of hundreds of students alternately practicing with weapons, sparring, and studying creeds and history of the martial arts initially intimidated me, but, eventually, this dojo would become my sanctuary.
In the months that followed, I invested all of my energy in karate. The moves became natural, as my body grew stronger and more agile. I felt myself transforming from a chubby little boy into a fit young man. One unforgettable day, Fariborz invited me to join the adult class. At the age of 12, I would be the youngest person in the class. Fariborzs recognition of my hard work inspired me to increase my effort. Four years passed, and I finally earned the red-black belt, the belt that symbolized the beginning of a yearlong testing process for black belt.
That September, I walked down a candle-lit path toward Fariborz, who would tie a black belt around my waste. As I approached Fariborz, he took off his own worn black belt and wrapped it around my waste. Tears streamed down my face as I realized that Fariborz had chosen to honor me with his own belt.
As I reflected on my journey to becoming a black belt, I realized that it had changed my life, imbuing me with confidence and determination. I wanted to help others experience this transformation, so I volunteered as an instructor at the studio, teaching karate routinely after school. I enjoyed the opportunity to work with kids who struggled to learn particular moves and integral concepts of honesty and integrity. A few students I worked with had an autism spectrum disorder which presented unique challenges because of their difficulty communicating or participating in a class. As I worked with them, I saw the impact of my effort, as students who had struggled to make eye contact looked directly at me, and others who had been disruptive in class began participating alongside their peers.
Last year, after I became a second degree black belt, I began an internship at Center for Autism and Related Disorders, determined to learn applied behavioral analysis (ABA), which is used to increase positive behaviors and decrease negative behaviors in children with autism. The more I learn about ABA, the more I realize that the karate studio offers the ideal atmosphere for a child with autism who requires consistent boundaries and reinforcement to succeed. When a child with autism makes eye contact with me for the first time, my life comes into focus.
Fariborz gave me the gift of confidence by challenging me mentally and physically and by creating an atmosphere in which I learned that I can face any challenge with honor, dignity, and compassion, learning as much from my mistakes as I do from my successes. Karate has prepared me for the challenges that I will face in college and throughout my life.