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What A Black Belt Means To Me by Wyatt Mak

A Black Belt is nothing without the person who wears it. A Black Belt doesn’t make the person. It is the mentality of the person that makes them a Black Belt. At Amerikick we have a saying, “A black belt is a white belt that never quits”. Nobody can respect somebody who calls themselves a black belt just because they have a black belt. People can respect someone who has a deep respect for others and truly knows the purpose of a black belt. My name is Wyatt Mak. I studied at Master Alex Davydov’s Amerikick Park Slope dojo for six years and this is my essay for achieving my Black Belt.

Growing up as a kid watching movies, I would see people wearing this cloth around their waist. It would be dark black and we would think that it looked really cool. People would be doing flips and cool strikes in a fight. At the time, it seemed unreal. When I was a kid I failed to realize that those people weren’t just born and could do all the cool flips. Those people worked for years to be able to do what they could in the movie. Those people didn’t just practice for a couple minutes a week and call it a day, they had to make many sacrifices and put in hundreds of hours. Amerikick has taught me and many others to work hard just like those people.

Tournaments and competitions were a big part of my career at Amerikick. I started at the local AKL and soon moved on to larger competitions such as New York Tournaments in Long Island. I spent a couple of years honing my skills at New York Tournament and soon went on to my first Amerikick Internationals. After my first Internationals where I met some incredible competitors, I knew how much more I needed to train. I started taking lessons with top competitors such as Sammy Smith and Reed Presley. I continued going to New York Tournaments for practice. After 4 years of being at Amerikick, I started competing at the World Karate Conference where I first won regionally and then won a bronze medal at the national championship in Detroit. This qualified me to go to the world championship as part of Team USA, and it was an honor to represent my country in the tournament. WKC was definitely an incredible experience and the people we met were amazing as well.

Amerikick wasn’t only about learning karate. Amerikick has also helped me with friendships which I value a lot. I have gone to many new places with amazing people and friends. I have been to tournaments at Atlantic City, Detroit, and even Niagara Falls. I have also been on the Park Slope Demo Team with our amazing coach Sensei Ricky Taylor. While I was on the Demo Team, I met people that I’m still friends with to this day. Karate isn’t just about who can hit the hardest or who can kick the highest, it’s about the lessons you learn and how you apply it to your life.

During the year of 2020, the pandemic struck. The Coronavirus caused all indoor activities to be put on hold. This did unfortunately include Amerikick where we couldn’t even go inside of the dojo. To continue attending classes we were forced to take our classes online. This cut off many different classes such as sparring, hyper tricks, acrobatics, and weapons since having space to practice would be a problem for almost everyone. Tournaments and competing online was a challenge for most people as well. Although the Coronavirus was a massive issue, things are starting to go back to normal as classes are happening indoors again. After a very hard year, we all hope for things to go back to normal.

Karate is an amazing sport that has helped me not just physically, but also mentally. While Covid didn’t hurt me physically, it was definitely a mental battle because not having access to the dojo to practice karate in person with other people took away a lot of the energy. Thankfully, I managed to stick it out and now have started training in person again. Recently this summer, I was invited to join the Park Slope Dream Team where I was honored to train with many of the senseis at our school. I also looked forward to competing at the Amerikick Internationals, which was my first in person tournament since the start of Covid. With the help of Sensei Manny Brown and Sensei Vince Little, I was able to train again like I did back before Covid. In the end, I won both for my individual NASKA divisions, as well as the team NASKA division with the Dream Team. Finally, I won the Grand Championship for my division, thus showing how hard work, perseverance, and mental toughness can go a long way. After all, a black belt is a white belt who never quit.

A Black Belt itself isn’t the most important thing about karate. Just because you have a black belt doesn’t mean that you’re a sensei. A sensei is a teacher and the title of Sensei is something to value and not to brag about. But a black belt is still important because it is the first step to becoming a sensei and a teacher. This is what a Black Belt means to me and how Amerikick taught me lessons for life.

vWhat does a Black Belt mean to me? A Black Belt is nothing without the person who wears it. A Black Belt doesn’t make the person. It is the mentality of the person that makes them a Black Belt. At Amerikick we have a saying, “A black belt is a white belt that never quits”. Nobody can respect somebody who calls themselves a black belt just because they have a black belt. People can respect someone who has a deep respect for others and truly knows the purpose of a black belt. My name is Wyatt Mak. I studied at Master Alex Davydov’s Amerikick Park Slope dojo for six years and this is my essay for achieving my Black Belt.

Growing up as a kid watching movies, I would see people wearing this cloth around their waist. It would be dark black and we would think that it looked really cool. People would be doing flips and cool strikes in a fight. At the time, it seemed unreal. When I was a kid I failed to realize that those people weren’t just born and could do all the cool flips. Those people worked for years to be able to do what they could in the movie. Those people didn’t just practice for a couple minutes a week and call it a day, they had to make many sacrifices and put in hundreds of hours. Amerikick has taught me and many others to work hard just like those people.

Tournaments and competitions were a big part of my career at Amerikick. I started at the local AKL and soon moved on to larger competitions such as New York Tournaments in Long Island. I spent a couple of years honing my skills at New York Tournament and soon went on to my first Amerikick Internationals. After my first Internationals where I met some incredible competitors, I knew how much more I needed to train. I started taking lessons with top competitors such as Sammy Smith and Reed Presley. I continued going to New York Tournaments for practice. After 4 years of being at Amerikick, I started competing at the World Karate Conference where I first won regionally and then won a bronze medal at the national championship in Detroit. This qualified me to go to the world championship as part of Team USA, and it was an honor to represent my country in the tournament. WKC was definitely an incredible experience and the people we met were amazing as well.

Amerikick wasn’t only about learning karate. Amerikick has also helped me with friendships which I value a lot. I have gone to many new places with amazing people and friends. I have been to tournaments at Atlantic City, Detroit, and even Niagara Falls. I have also been on the Park Slope Demo Team with our amazing coach Sensei Ricky Taylor. While I was on the Demo Team, I met people that I’m still friends with to this day. Karate isn’t just about who can hit the hardest or who can kick the highest, it’s about the lessons you learn and how you apply it to your life.

During the year of 2020, the pandemic struck. The Coronavirus caused all indoor activities to be put on hold. This did unfortunately include Amerikick where we couldn’t even go inside of the dojo. To continue attending classes we were forced to take our classes online. This cut off many different classes such as sparring, hyper tricks, acrobatics, and weapons since having space to practice would be a problem for almost everyone. Tournaments and competing online was a challenge for most people as well. Although the Coronavirus was a massive issue, things are starting to go back to normal as classes are happening indoors again. After a very hard year, we all hope for things to go back to normal.

Karate is an amazing sport that has helped me not just physically, but also mentally. While Covid didn’t hurt me physically, it was definitely a mental battle because not having access to the dojo to practice karate in person with other people took away a lot of the energy. Thankfully, I managed to stick it out and now have started training in person again. Recently this summer, I was invited to join the Park Slope Dream Team where I was honored to train with many of the senseis at our school. I also looked forward to competing at the Amerikick Internationals, which was my first in person tournament since the start of Covid. With the help of Sensei Manny Brown and Sensei Vince Little, I was able to train again like I did back before Covid. In the end, I won both for my individual NASKA divisions, as well as the team NASKA division with the Dream Team. Finally, I won the Grand Championship for my division, thus showing how hard work, perseverance, and mental toughness can go a long way. After all, a black belt is a white belt who never quit.

A Black Belt itself isn’t the most important thing about karate. Just because you have a black belt doesn’t mean that you’re a sensei. A sensei is a teacher and the title of Sensei is something to value and not to brag about. But a black belt is still important because it is the first step to becoming a sensei and a teacher. This is what a Black Belt means to me and how Amerikick taught me lessons for life.

 

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