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Black Belt Essay by Ashley Zerbe

I have learned a lot ever since I received my Junior Black Belt.
The major things I have learned is that it has helped me focus more, I have also been a lot stronger and more mature.
I have been through a lot this past year and trying to earn my First Degree Black Belt has been hard.
I have been part of the Kenpo program at Amerikick for 7 years now and I want to keep going. It definitely shows me how to protect
myself and others. Learning how to do weapons is also fun, but also an art. Everyone has their preference of weapons. My weapon of
choice is the Nunchuck. I like learning new tricks to do with them it takes a lot of practice to get the tricks down with weapons.

I almost lost close friends and some trust has been broken. But I learned to pick myself up and fix things.
I told myself everyday if I want this piece of fabric with my name on it around my waist I have to work 10 times harder.
I wanted to show all of the haters out there that I can become something great. To show them nothing is impossible I
realized I have to be a lot more focused on my karate and it has also helped me focus on school work to get my grades up so I can get into college.

I started doing kickboxing and boxing classes. Not only is it making me stronger and leaner, but it is showing me better
ways to punch and kick. It helps me spar better as well. When I do these classes I give it my best. I love those classes
because they are fun and active. I definitely learned a lot from these classes. Seeing other people there trying to become healthier and stronger has gotten my motivation going. When people are working out together it is more fun than working out on your own. I also love seeing people work hard for themselves to get what they want. Anyone can achieve their dreams if they are dedicated, committed and work hard enough.

I started helping out my karate school with the younger kids classes. It is actually interesting to teach kids what I know and
most of the time they listen and I realize I have to be patient with them. Showing the kids ways to protect themselves makes
me feel like a better person. I have received compliments on how well the kids respond to me in class. I love seeing them come
in with smiles on their faces ready to get to their class and get to work. Even on my worse days I know when I come in to help
out with a class the students will always put a smile on my face.

Karate is like my second home. I love going there and doing what I love. I have a smile on my face every time, but when I get on the mat I get serious. Going to karate makes me happy and I feel like I have another family.