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Black Belt Essay by Bill Diamantakos

The journey of my belt graduation began in  2012 at the age of 44. Although I was always interested in combat sports as long as I can remember, I never imagined that I could actually consider earning a black belt in karate at my age. My wife and children were invited to a birthday party at Amerikick Delran, they enjoyed it so much my wife Maggie enrolled our children Elias and Irene shortly thereafter. I was pleased with her decision and couldn’t wait to take the kids to class myself.

My first impression of Amerikick Delran was that it was a pleasant family friendly environment. The instructors seemed knowledgeable in martial arts and well capable of instructing children. Shortly after the children joining Amerikick Delran, I began building friendships with some of the other fathers who’s children were enrolled at the school also. One evening in June of 2012 Sensei Nick announced he would be holding a Father’s Day self defense class for any of the dad’s that wanted to attend and a bunch of us did. I enjoyed the class very much and sat down with Sensei Nick to discuss the possibility of becoming a student myself.

The Staff at Amerikick was not only receptive to the idea, they were very encouraging. As was my family and if it were not for there support I would not be writing this essay right now. So I began my pursuit of earning my black belt. In the beginning it was strange, in fact I recall asking Sensei Jamel if he had ever seen a 44 year old white belt and his response was an encouraging, you won’t be a white belt for long!! With that being said I slowly began to advance my ranking. The more time I spent at the school and the better I got to know my instructors the more I realized that I was very fortunate to have found this school.

With the responsibilities of parenting, home life and work my assent was slow to say the least. I tried to make class at least twice a week but some weeks it was difficult but the desire to advance was always there although I must be honest and say that there were many times when I questioned myself. Weather or not I should be spending that amount of time on a personal goal instead of being with my family, working on my business or even on the golf course where a man my age would look more appropriate. But I stuck with it and I’m glad I    . With the help of my instructors Sensei’s Steve Brenneisen, Ron Gebhardt, Jamel Morgan-Knight, Amy Swift and The Perdunn Family it was not only rewarding as an accomplishment but I was rewarded in making friends with all my instructors and their families as well.

With all that I’ve said thus far it is without question that I now must thank all of the people who have made this dream of mine a reality. My wife Maggie, our children Elias and Irene and the staff of Amerikick Delran. Thank you all for your love, patients and support. I couldn’t have done it without you, you guys are the best!!! Thank You All..