Black belt is one of the hardest belts that I will try to earn. It is a long process and there are no shortcuts. Being a black belter to me is being part of a sensei and with it comes a big responsibility. With the Amerikick karate program, it helped improve my health and fitness through our class workouts and experienced training. I had been attending karate classes for 4 years now since 2015 with the help of 3 main Sensei`s. I used to be a frail looking 9 year old kid when I first started. Physical exercise and push ups helped me gain stamina, strength and endurance. At first I had fun but later on, I wanted to quit karate when I reached the purple belt. I had thought of quitting because it was getting too hard. My mom encouraged me to keep going, and I did. I had also talked to Sensei Mike about quitting and told him how nervous I was and felt that I didn’t fit in. He never gave up on me. He had also encouraged me to continue attending the class. He once said, “quitters never win”. So here I am, doing my black belt testing. I admit, Sensei Mike was a bit scary at the start because of his loud thundering voice but when I earned higher belts, I started to understand why he did that. He was trying to teach us about discipline and perseverance. I had gained confidence and focus by learning self defense and sparring techniques. It increased my balance, dexterity and hand-eye coordination through the weapons and kickboxing training. We were taught using weapons responsibly and not for playing. There were three weapons I had learned to use: the Bo Staff, Nunchucks, and Komas. I felt more confident using the Bo Staff as compared to the other weapons. Another lesson I learned from karate class is that you don’t have to fight in order to be considered brave and strong. Karate had taught me about self control and to never hurt anybody purposely unless it is for self defense. You can just practice and practice and never give up. Sensei Eric taught us tips on how to be snappy, fast kicks and punches, and having good re chamber which amazed me. Sensei Steve made sure the children learn the proper karate techniques and still have fun. Young and playful, he showed us cool tricks with the weapons. We also do board breaking every 3 months. I was so nervous during my first board breaking experience. I thought that I was going to get hurt or something. I had learned there could be different techniques on breaking a board. We can use different parts of our body without hurting ourselves using proper techniques. As I did more board breaking, I was ready to do a thick board which is triple the thickness of the thin ones. Although it took me a couple tries to break it, I did it. It was one of my great achievements. I had worked hard to get up here. There is a stripe week once a month and we earned a black stripe if we showed improvement. Then after acquiring several black stripes and proving we are ready, we are promoted to the next belt. I had to do a specific number of push ups as part of the requirements to fully acquire my other belts. I also developed a good bond and team work with other kids in the studio. I tried to be a role model to the younger kids. I helped other students with the katas and gave them tips on what they can work on. It takes courage, self discipline and perseverance in order to get your black belt. Nothing is easy if one does not work hard for it. The benefits of learning martial arts are life changing and possibly life-saving. We are also taught to be well rounded individuals, that we do not excel only in extracurricular activities but also academically as well. I was once awarded as Student of the Month in my middle school and Amerikick also awarded me with a patch for my uniform. We earned a patch for good grades and positive works. One thing is for sure, the skills and values I learned through Amerikick will stay in me & my entire life.