blackbelt hands
Thirteen brave students tested this month for their Black Belts. This is a big deal. Though many students pass through the doors of Karate Kids, not many stay the three to six years it may take for them to achieve this goal. Naturally, children become bored easily and want to move on and try different activities. This is healthy as long as the parents allow them time to feel accomplished in the activities they try, and don’t over book them as this can cause stress.

Thirteen brave students stood up in front of a panel of teachers (Sensei) and performed Gozen Karate techniques to the best of their abilities. But karate skills are not the only aspect of the test. In fact, the most important part of the test is the work they have been doing throughout their years at Karate Kids — their work on LIFE SKILLS and MANNERS.

Oh yes, these kids are not only learning the value of karate and fitness, they are keeping their rooms clean! (I heard the gasp) That’s right, these fine young students have also learned how to introduce themselves, share, help others, teach, be honest and kind, stayed focused, and never give up until they reach their goals.

All these qualities were on display for the friends and families who had gathered to watch this 3-hour test of champions. Even though the students were between the ages of 9-13, let not their youthfulness fool thee! (Just came back from the Shakespeare Festival. It rubbed off.)

These fine young people have become mentors for manners and lessons for life. They are role models for other students who look up to them.

All passed their test and earned their Black Belts with flying colors and rounds of applause! Well done!

And as my wonderful teachers and I said our farewells to the families, a grandfather approached.

“You must be so proud at creating this wonderful program for the children. My grandson has thrived here.”

With tears in his eyes he shook my hand. “Thank you.”

I thanked him too, and thought to myself, this is what it’s all about! Giving and receiving, sharing and learning, creating and appreciating, and being grateful for those who are grateful. Like the obi (belt) in karate, when tied around one’s waist symbolizes no beginning and no end, so does the Dojo (karate school) represent the never-ending circle of lessons from the children.

Ah those kids. Even after 25 years, they continue to show me how to be a better person, and so especially to them, I am eternally grateful.