Biggest challenge in getting black belt is ‘with yourself’

When I was 7 years old my par­ents en­rolled me in kar­ate classes at Ac­tion Kar­ate in Feasterville. From that time un­til now I’ve been in­volved in kar­ate.  When I star­ted out I was a “white belt” and in three years was awar­ded a “ju­ni­or black belt.” After that I con­tin­ued my kar­ate train­ing and now, after earn­ing 17 colored belts over al­most five and a half years, I’ll be test­ing for first-de­gree “seni­or black belt.”

The biggest chal­lenge in get­ting your black belt is with your­self. You need to com­mit your­self to go­ing to classes every week and try­ing your best if you ex­pect to earn your belts on time.  Throughout my jour­ney with Ac­tion Kar­ate, I’ve learned many things. Re­spect, dis­cip­line and per­sever­ance are all needed to pre­pare for a black belt.  Some­times it was hard get­ting to class be­cause I didn’t feel like go­ing, but I stuck it out and I’m glad that I did.  And these qual­it­ies I learned will help me be suc­cess­ful throughout life, too.

Our in­struct­ors are al­ways telling us to stay fo­cused on our goals.  I didn’t want to let my par­ents down or Mas­ter Bren­ner or my in­struct­or, Mr. Rodrig­uez, either.  But most of all, I didn’t want to let my­self down, so I didn’t give up.

Kar­ate is not about fight­ing. It’s about tak­ing con­trol of your­self, and learn­ing to make the right choices.  In every class we are taught that mak­ing the right choices is the best way to pro­tect ourselves and if we do that we will not have to use our de­fense skills.

At Ac­tion Kar­ate, Mas­ter Bren­ner teaches all his stu­dents that a black belt is not just something you wear, It’s an at­ti­tude.  I’ve played base­ball, foot­ball and flag foot­ball for school and for Somer­ton Youth Or­gan­iz­a­tion.  I also at­ten­ded Arch­bish­op Ry­an’s base­ball camp.  These are sports I en­joy with my friends.  My kar­ate train­ing is a little dif­fer­ent be­cause it doesn’t have an off-sea­son.  That means if you ex­pect to keep up with your train­ing, you might need to miss out on oth­er things that your friends are do­ing.  It’s not easy, but some­how you learn to work everything out.

On June 1, all the black belt can­did­ates will prove their skills in front of their fam­ily and friends at the Black Belt Chal­lenge.  At that time all of the hard work will pay off when we are awar­ded our belts.  That isn’t the end, though. You can go on to as many black-belt de­grees as you want. Kar­ate can be a life­time choice.  Right now, I’m stay­ing fo­cused on June 1, 2013. ••

Ed­it­or’s note: Con­nor Fen­nell, 12, lives in Somer­ton and is a sev­enth grade stu­dent at St. Chris­toph­er’s School. He wrote and sub­mit­ted this es­say be­cause one of his re­quire­ments to be­come a seni­or black belt is to let the com­munity know more about kar­ate. 

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