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Black Belt Essay by Julia Ackerman

On June 2nd I will walk across the stage for the third time to receive my first degree black belt. It has been two years since I have earned my senior black belt and I have learned many important things that have changed my life. I have been doing karate for almost 9 years now and when I was 5 years old I didn’t put much consideration into what karate means. When I was younger I thought karate was going to be all fun and games. For the first part it was but as I got older I started to understand what karate really teaches you.

Over the years I have learned a lot more skills, katas, and self defense techniques. While learning these katas I realized that they aren’t just some random kicks and punches all put together for you to memorize. The katas aren’t just for people to perform them at tournaments. They are made up of a bunch of creative techniques and moves to demonstrate how you are being attacked and what each move does to your attacker. Learning these new katas and self defense techniques will help me protect myself if I ever get in a risky situation. Being taught these things also helped me improve my overall physical and mental fitness.

I have also taken more of the responsibility as the role of a sensei. I was nominated into a leadership committee at Amerikick where you learned how to teach and mentor a group of younger karate students. I also participated in Amerikick teaching seminars. I learned a bunch of drills to use in classes and how to be more creative and come up with drills of my own. This way it will help the kids become more engaged because they are learning new things that they might not have tried before. Not only have those seminars taught me how to teach kids basic karate but I also learned that what I do can have a big impact on them feeling successful and accomplished no matter what their skill level is.

In karate you are always learning new things whether it’s time management, determination, patience or focus. The skills I have developed have come in handy for things outside of karate. For instance there are school nights were I really don’t want to finish my homework or study for that big test the next day. But doing karate has really helped me push to finish and give the best I’ve got even when I feel like I cannot go further. My years of participation in karate have mostly helped me with my confidence. Competing in tournaments was a very scary thing for me to do and it still is a little bit. But after a while I got used to it more and it has helped me with class participation, standing up to bullying and trying new sports and activities.

I am very honored to be earning my first degree black belt. I would like to thank Senseis Mike, John, Sherry, Ray, Brad and Alex at Amerikick North Penn for their hard work and dedication. I would also like to thank my fellow students for always pushing me to do my best. Lastly I would like to thank my family for always supporting me on this journey. I am proud to be receiving this belt and look forward to the next chapter of learning at Amerikick.