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Black Belt Essay by Shane Billow

What have I learned since I earned my black belt? I have learned many things since receiving my junior and senior black belts.  The most important things I have learned are that hard work pays off, the belt symbolizes respect that I have to continually earn and I can inspire others.

Hard work pays off. I have learned that hard work never stops. Receiving my black belt isn’t the end of my training. In many ways, it is the beginning as I have passed the hardest of all belt tests.  Now I must maintain what I have learned and further cultivate my martial arts knowledge. I have to be practicing every day. Whether it’s weapons or forms, I’m always practicing.  In the competition world of martial arts, I have to continually grow and show the martial artist that I genuinely am. I am out of the shadows of other competitors now. I went from one time barely placing in the top 8, to winning divisions and runoffs and making it to the nighttime finals show at NASKA tournaments. Hard work is what got me to this point. I’ve worked to better myself as an overall martial artist. I don’t just wear a black belt. I AM A BLACK BELT. My education is continuous. My dedication is never-ending.

Secondly, I have learned that respect comes with the belt. A black belt doesn’t mean you are above anyone. To have a black belt, you must have responsibility and respect. If I didn’t have them, then others would think that is how to be a black belt, and I would become a bad role model for them. I must show respect for the belt and show that I am honored to have it, so I could be a good role model for littler ones.  When I go to the dojo to practice, I notice younger kids watching me.  I remember when I was young and would watch the black belt students practice.  I wanted to be like them and as good as them.  I know that many of these kids do look up to me so I have to act respectfully.  I don’t take the things I have for granted.  Every class I have, every lesson I have is a gift from my parents who support and respect me and my goals.

Lastly, I want to inspire other young kids. I want them to look up to me. I want them to say, “I want to be like him someday!” I want to inspire them to be the best that they can. I want them to learn that everything doesn’t come easy. You must work for it. And if you really want it, if you really want to achieve your goals, then you have to work for it.  I have proven this to myself and I want others to see the same.  If it comes too easy, it’s not a big enough goal.  I have to always strive for more and I want others to do the same.

In closing, earning my black belt has taught me hard work pays off, the belt is a symbol of respect and that I can inspire others.