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What Becoming a Black belt means to me by Rick Miles

The adventure to my black belt began about four and a half years ago. My daughter Joselyn,
now a jr. Black belt, wanted to begin her career as a ninja. After some quick google searches my wife
found a deal for classes and a free uniform, so we signed up our kids. I figured we would do the 5 classes
and move on to baseball or football in a couple weeks. The kids loved their classes and the instructors
on the mat seemed nice enough so we signed them up long term.

Over the next several months I watched my kids’ physical ability and mental focus increasing.
There is no doubt they were hooked. Fast forward a bit to the following June.

DADS TRAIN for free! I figured I’d get on the mat and see what karate guy thought about a 250 lb
power lifter… the next hour consisted of Sensei Mike Sautner catching me in locks and chokes and
demonstrating just how a properly executed block most definitely is a painful strike.

I collected the shattered pieces of my ego and trudged into the office. Sign me up now!

The next few months were a realization to how uncoordinated and out of shape I really was. I
couldn’t do more than 25 push ups and 50 sit ups was quite painful. The first kata I learned, Amerikick
short 1, was a contorted montage of hand movements and footwork that seemed completely
unattainable. My introduction to sparring was no less embarrassing. There was about 15 minutes of
warm up followed by one on one sparring where after thirty exhausting seconds of throwing hay makers
I settled in for a night of teenagers all but striking at will.

I couldn’t quite now! What kind of example would I be to my kids? After all the big talk about not
quitting, about following through and achieving your goals; I couldn’t fail in front of them.

I started going to class three to four times a week. Dad doing his kata in the living room and kitchen
became a part of life. I stepped on to the mat for kickboxing class twice a week in an attempt to get
some kind of cardio vascular endurance. Sensei’s John and Sherry Connor kept constant motivation
with fresh and challenging work outs coupled with awesome technical instruction.

Soon I was showing up to the studio for karate, followed by kickboxing, and then an hour of Mauy Thai.
Little by little kata started making sense, self defense moves were starting to flow naturally, and
Thursday night sparring became my favorite night of the week. I added morning runs of three to five
miles, 200-300 sit ups a day, and 200 push ups a day. My weight has dropped from 258 to 213 pounds.

Amerikick karate has become a way of life for my family. Our Sensei’s and classmates have become
friends and extended family. We continually set and achieve new goals.

What does my black belt mean to me?

I stuck with it! I stepped out of my comfort zone and grew myself physically and mentally.
I set an example for my kids! Set your goals and achieve them.
I was broken down and rebuilt. From my first humbling on the mat with Sensei Mike to the
constant reminders I get from all of the highly skilled martial artist within Amerikick: I really still
have a long way to go.
And most importantly the beginning of my training as a martial artist.

Rick Miles