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What black belt means to me by Meghan Laster

When I began this journey, getting a black belt was not my intention. I had been taking my kids to Amerikick Delran for classes and I decided to take classes for some exercise. It was a gradual transition from there. Each belt was an accomplishment. I have enjoyed the classes and working out with my fellow classmates.

To me becoming a black belt means family. My son, Benjamin, is a Senior Black Belt and my daughter, McCoy, is a Junior Black Belt. Not only do my children take karate, my husband is a red belt as well. Both my children are on the Black Belt Demo Team for Delran. My family has taken this journey together giving truth to the quote, “The family that kicks together sticks together.” There is no better place to be after a long day at work than the positive atmosphere of Amerikick Delran. Whether it’s for a class or the social time with other parents while my kids have class. We have found the atmosphere at Amerikick to be family oriented and consider other members part of my family as well.

Katas are definitely my favorite part of the curriculum. I enjoy learning how self defense techniques can flow into another technique to make the kata itself. I remember watching higher belts perform their kata and thinking I couldn’t wait to get there. Performing katas becomes a sort of meditation, just you and the mat. Learning self defense techniques makes me feel like a badass, especially when Sensei Nick shows us extra moves or variations. I hope I’m never in a situation to have to use them, but glad I know them.

I have a knee condition that causes them to dislocate. I’ve had reconstructive knee surgery on my left knee to prevent this from happening. The recovery was a long and painful one and I have put off having the second surgery until absolutely necessary. As a result of this lifelong affliction, I suffer from PTSD, Anxiety and Depression. I found karate to help me break out of the fog and get me active again after surgery. The most difficult part for me is sparring or being the attacker for self defense techniques. Sensei’s have been completely understanding if I need to step off the mat for a minute or need an accommodation of some kind. Sensei Amy specifically is always offering positive encouragement to get me out of my head and back on the mat.

My journey to this point hasn’t been perfect. Unfortunately, there were times that I let the negative thoughts win and took a break from classes. I don’t ever want my knees to deter me from accomplishing the things that I enjoy. I missed my fellow classmates and truly feel better after classes, which is why I always came back. Rather than fearing the test and worrying about my knees, I hope to embrace it and enjoy the experience with my classmates. I look forward to continuing this journey.