So, I had to write a short essay for karate as an assignment for acceptance into the leadership team. This is what I came up with:
"Over the past 14 months, karate has become a very important part of my life. As a child, I had a great desire to get involved in karate, yet I don’t really know where this dream came from. None of my friends or anyone in my family was interested or involved in martial arts at all. It just started to grow in me one day until it became all consuming. Maybe it was from the first time that I saw the movie, The Karate Kid. Something about that movie just spoke to me, but the possibility of ever achieving that dream was almost instantly pushed aside when I realized the futility of asking for something like that. I remember asking to participate in soccer, and laying in bed thinking about what I would say and how I could present it to my mother, and when I did I knew I would have to have a way to come up with the money. That was no where near as expensive as karate would be all year, and so I never asked. I knew she would respond with frustrated words similar to, “You know we don’t have the money for that. Why don’t you call your dad and ask him if he can pay for something like that!” I knew full well that would never happen, especially since I had already asked him to help me buy my $15 PE uniform, which he refused, and so, that was it, the hope of ever fulfilling that dream was gone. I dropped it completely, knowing it was hopeless to continue to even think about it at all. But dreams never do really die. They always seem to find a way to pop back up from time to time, always tormenting you until you take the time to pursue them, which is what I finally decided to do. I was talking to my mom on the phone one evening and told her how much I wanted to do this and reminded her of how I had wanted to do this since I was about 8 or 9 years old. She had completely forgotten it and was surprised. I started to cry terribly and told her I felt like I would never be able to do this and that I was so frustrated that I let myself just sweep so many hopes and dreams aside or ignore them all these years just because I was so worried about everyone else. I didn’t know why it was so important to me, but the emotions became so strong, and the years of frustration finally just started to pour out.
I am grateful beyond measure that I finally listened to my heart and took the initiative to do this! I have learned so many things through karate, not just about self defense, but about myself; who I am, what I hope to achieve and be, and what I can be. From the time when this dream was born at 8 years old until I finally acted upon it last year, I never really thought, “I want to be a black belt.” I don’t know why I wanted to do karate or what I hoped to get out of it, I just wanted it and I knew I needed it. Something about it just called to me even though I didn’t know what it had to offer. But, since I started, I have learned to set higher goals and to believe that they really can be achieved. I have always been a determined person and once I start something, I usually see it through to the end. Yet, since starting karate, I have become even more focused on what I can become. Earning a black belt isn’t about status or rank and it isn’t the end of the road either. As I see it, earning my black belt is just the beginning. Maybe I will continue on and earn higher degrees, but even if I don’t, it is about the fact that I listened to myself and responded. This tells me that I can continue to listen and respond for the rest of my life, no matter what the situation might be.
For me, it isn’t about why I would be a great black belt. Instead, it is about why a black belt would be great for me. Until last year, I would never have seen myself where I am today and where a black belt can take me. Knowledge, wisdom, strength, confidence, faith, determination, physical health, and spiritual and emotional awareness are just a few of the things that I have seen grow and I know will continue to grow on the road to earning my black belt. These are things that I could develop through very few other pursuits. I don’t know that I have anything more to offer than anyone else, which would make me a better candidate for a black belt, but I know that what it has to offer me is something I can not deny or refuse."