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What Black belt means to me by Vivian Tran

Going to karate always makes me feel happier and always distracts me from my other worries going on in my life. With quarantine happening, I took a 12-month break from karate to be safe and protect my high-risk family from the virus. That 12-month break took a huge toll on me, since interacting with people and socializing was one of my main sources of energy and motivation. After a long year, and finally getting vaccinated, I decided that it was finally time for me to return to karate. I was very anxious and didn’t know what to expect, after taking that long of a break. The first 10 minutes of being back, I finally felt comfortable again and felt very relieved to be back to my second home. 
With my younger sister joining in 2017, two years after me, I got offered a chance to help as a junior leader. I had a lot of free time, so my parents and I decided to give it a try. At first it was bumpy, but all new experiences like that have its ups and downs when you first start. I had many amazing and experienced senseis to help guide me and teach me many many things that I could do during class, and outside of class too. 
I was always a super introverted, quiet kid that didn’t talk to many people. I never had many friends in school and kept to myself most of the time. With joining karate and getting the opportunity to help out at the dojo, I became more outgoing and talkative. The first time that the people around me noticed change was with my parents, they noticed that I was talking to them more often than usual. I had a quiet voice too, whenever a teacher told me to speak, I would have to repeat myself two to three times in order for them to hear me. About a year after joining, I noticed that there was no need for me to repeat myself anymore, since my voice got louder after continuously attending practice two days a week. 
Growing up, I always loved kids and interacting with them, and helping teach them karate has made me love them even more. At first it was a little awkward, since I didn’t really know how to talk to them nor interact with them, but after a little bit of time and practice, I got the hang of it pretty quickly. Working with kids and teaching them has also made me more open to learning new things and helped me find my love for teaching. One of my career choices is to become a teacher, and helping at the dojo has definitely helped me find that I really enjoy teaching. 
“Miss Vivian”, the name that most people at karate call me, is one that I love and adore because I know that it’s a name that only gets called at one of the the places I’m most comfortable at. Teaching those energetic little kids always brings a smile to my face, especially after a long day at school. Since there aren’t many red belts at my dojo, sometimes certain students will see my belt and be astonished, asking me “Why is your belt red and black?”. It’s always so funny to me, no matter how bad of a day I was having. One time a student said to me, “I went to school today.”, so I responded with, “Me too.”. The look on his face was priceless, he was so shocked that he didn’t even have any words to say. Another girl overheard and said, “Oh, are you a teacher?!”. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such unexpected words before. I’ve been waiting for the day I can finally be called, “Sensei Vivian” for so long, and now that it’s a few days away, it doesn’t even feel real anymore. 
I’m so thankful for all my incredible instructors, talented classmates, understanding students, and supporting friends/family. Without them, I would not have been able to do anything I’ve accomplished today. With all of their kind and motivating words, I will work my absolute hardest at my black belt test.