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What My Black Belt Means to Me by Gracie Sokoloff

My black Belt. For seven years, the moment I’ve been waiting for, has finally come to me. I will be receiving my Black Belt. The color I have seen on many Senseis, teaching me to come to this spectacular point of my life. And now I will be one of those Senseis, who will teach kids like me, to get where I am now.

This whole story started when I was in first grade. My friend asked if I would like to take karate with her. At that time I didn’t think my life would end up here when I said “yes”. That one word took me here…right now, right at this moment. That one word changed my life.  I will now be a leader, defender, and protector, a Black Belt. After my first class, I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I knew I wanted to be a Black Belt. Every class I saw my name up on the Black Belt rack. And every time I saw it, I pushed myself harder and harder, so I could make it to this point.

At my first tournament, I saw all of the other kids do their katas. They were strong and loud, and had great scores in the end. I thought I wasn’t good enough to win. Everyone else seemed better than me. Then I looked over at the Black Belts, and they looked so confident and strong. Every single one of them went up and showed their best to the judges. I decided to think like them too. The judges called my name and asked if I could come up to do my kata. I answered “yes”. Again, that word took me further. So I went up to do my kata and did my best. Because of the Black Belts, and their confidence, I was able to win second place.

A few years later, I realized that almost every Amerikick school had a Demo Team. I always loved watching the other kids do flips and cartwheel kicks in the air. But one day, after one of my classes, Sensei Sue handed me a letter with my name on it. It was an invitation to join Amerikick Haddon Heights’ new Demo Team. I was so happy to be invited. Happy as I’d ever be, I said “yes”. Again, that word that changed my life. That word meant more now because saying “yes” for the third time, made things go even farther.

Soon after I was invited onto the Demo Team, I went to one of my normal classes and Sensei Josh announced the July 2018 Student of the Month. My hands started to shake and my face became bright red.  Hoping that I would be student of the month, because July was my birthday month, and I had worked so hard and had never been picked. I was crossing my fingers that it could be a birthday gift to me. Finally, he announced that the student of the month was me, Gracie Sokoloff. I was thrilled. I felt so special and so happy for how hard I worked to get it. He handed me the special belt and asked me if I wanted to put it on, I answered “yes”. Once again, that took me one step closer to my Black Belt. It made me more confident than ever before.

And now the time has come. The time for me to finish what I started. Time for me to complete my goal. Time for me to be a leader. Time for me to be the best of the best. My essay may be coming to an end, but my story will go on when I say “yes” one more time. Time for me to say “yes”… to my Black Belt.