What the Black Belt means to me and why it is important for me to achieve it
A black belt is the culmination of achieving self perfection and discipline. Over the years it has taken me to get here, I have found that the skills I need to succeed in life can be found all along the daily routine of training in the martial arts. The discipline I have learned through practicing martial arts has helped me to transfer that sense of control to all the other aspects of my life. Achieving black belt status is a goal that I have worked towards through all of my many years of training. It is evidence of what I have learned and achieved through the martial arts.
Through the hard and arduous journey to black belt I have learned to control my emotions. The way I talk, walk, and stand when dealing with others. These skills have been extremely useful throughout life in allowing me to avoid conflicts with others. It is important to achieve this harmony with others if one wishes to be successful in life. Yet it was just the external success I saw but the internals as well. As my self confidence and esteem has grown which has further reduced the likely of conflict with others.
On my journey to black belt I have learned about maintain a healthy lifestyle. I have learned the effects of food and sleep on my ability to perform well as both a martial artist and in life.
Martial Arts have also taught me that persistence is key to everything. I have followed my dream of getting a black belt through 5 martial arts styles and schools. This journey has been fun and exciting, tiring and painful at times, yet it is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and it is something I wish to continue to pursue no matter what as I have never seen this sort of effect from anything else I have ever done.
I have always believed the difference between a black belt and a white belt is the black belt just never quit. This is to me is the most important meaning of black belt to me and the reason why I am still pursuing it. After achieving my black belt I hope to continue he journey by instilling these skills in both my future children and the people and students I meet.
I vividly remember walking into the dojo for a neighbor kid’s birthday party. My daughter Haley and the other kids are having a blast jumping around on the mat, “running in the jungle.” Shihan Moti Horenstein is clearly the “General,” firmly in charge of this place. He reminds me of my former Air Force commander who led our fighter squadron of F-15s with great charisma and competence. Oh those were the days, zooming through the skies, full of thrills, excitement, camaraderie and the rush of adrenaline. Will I ever feel that way again? Will I ever get in shape again? Could I become that kind of leader? Anyway, this Shihan looks like a pretty tough character!
Yikes, I’ve gotten soft over the years. I don’t feel so tough anymore. Too many years of eating airline food and sitting on my butt. Sure dodging mountains and thunderstorms in a big plane, then landing on a slick runway is pretty exciting. But I don’t feel much like the man I was supposed to become. I can’t even jog around the block without gasping for air. And I’ve lost my swagger!
I take a chance and try a class, and so begins my black belt journey. The post card from the dojo says: “A black belt is just a white belt who never quit.” I take that to heart, although the two workouts a week are very challenging. A lot of the moves are unusual and very new to me. I want to master it all instantly, but there’s a lot to learn. Stiff and sore, I realize that it will take some time to get in shape and learn this art, so I might as well relax and enjoy the journey! And what the heck, I should start taking notes on my computer, how else am I going to remember all this cool stuff!
Everyone is very nice and especially the advanced students, with their mysterious array of skills, who are always willing to teach and work with me. When I have a high belt as a partner I always appreciate their patience and expertise. Shihan praises me for working out hard and then suggests that I try breathing with every move! Funny (ha, ha) here I am getting winded and it turns out I’m holding my breath. At least Shihan noticed that I was trying hard! I like his “praise, correct, praise,” method, because it feels good getting recognized for what I’m doing right and that sure makes learning more fun. Exam nights are amazing, with the higher belts rolling around on the mat and doing all those lightening fast moves.
The spirit of our dojo is even more amazing. Teenagers and adults politely greet me and welcome me to the dojo and the “team.” A University Dean is my training partner some mornings. This Hillel guy is phenomenal, he’s so upbeat and helpful, and we’re both having fun learning these crazy drills. Then there’s this fired up young lady jumping around the mat like an Olympic athlete. Danielle is inspirational with her skill and energy! Shihan calls her “the heart of the dojo.” Now that’s a leader. And we all love those Friday morning “boot camps” with “Ma’am” (Melissa Horenstein). Everyone here is great!
In fact, they all say, “Welcome to the team” and suddenly I have a whole new group of friends and super training partners. What a rush. And there is Shihan, always setting a fierce tempo and teaching powerful moves and techniques while talking about being strong of mind, body and spirit.
Now, I get to help with the kid’s classes and my dream of being a coach finally comes true. Seeing those kids (including my daughter Haley) sweat, have fun and learn something is very rewarding. Sometimes I get to help out with the adult classes and that’s a blast too. I discover that in trying to teach, I learn a lot about myself and the art. Although I’m not always the most nimble athlete, I do make a point of faithfully and correctly presenting what Shihan teaches. My ever evolving, massive computer notes finally come in handy as I share key information with my teammates. In fact, we all share our knowledge and skills freely with each other. Fortunately, Shihan is always there for superior quality control and to give a strong demonstration of how to do it right.
Many of the new members of the dojo become my good friends. They are tough and attentive to detail. Many are so athletic and talented that I learn to be humble all over again. You know who you are! And I finally get to return the favor that those higher belts and team mates did for me. I get to help my new friends with demos and techniques. I get to welcome new students to our dojo. I get to teach and learn more. And we’re all getting a lot sharper! Many of us discover that a self defense skit with some humor can make those exam nights a lot of fun. Watching and helping my friends shine and kick butt on exam night is a rewarding experience. I feel all warm and glowing on the inside! Helping our new black belts (Danielle, Carlo, and Leigh) with the Black Belt Spectacular Show is a great experience for all of us that participate. I am proud to help and be part of that wonderful event. It all makes me think about what this black belt journey has meant to my life.
All the great sessions, positive messages and words of the week and leadership seminars help me grow as a person. Important ideas like “Honesty, integrity, humility, courtesy, harmony, self discipline, and perseverance” remind me of my core values. It’s okay to shine and lead and feel very good about yourself. I sure feel great about being a more confident person and being a lot stronger physically. And I love all the new skills. Thanks MHMMA!
I want to thank all of you at the dojo who make my life so rich and rewarding. Also my wife Diane has been incredibly supportive and my daughter Haley has great spirit and humor and keeps me fired up. You all are the most wonderful friends, teachers, and fellow students that a person could ask for. Thanks. You are the best!
There is still plenty to learn and plenty of room for improvement, so let’s keep our black belt journey going!
I strive to discipline my self in order to achieve my goals. The “minimum goal,” the black belt is, at this point, is the overarching goal. All of the work I’m am putting into my training, both mental and physical, is leading up to my black belt. When I become a black belt my training will have made me perseverant and I will continue to push my self to be a black belt who can lead others. Then, when this goal is reached my training will be aimed at achieving a different goal.
Although the black belt is my main goal at this time in my training, there are many other goals along the way. Being an example for younger students is important to me, in order to become a black belt. Aiding in the SWAT classes puts me on the spot as an example, and although at first I found this terrifying, I am now becoming more comfortable with it. I will become confident teaching students, and leading them as they try to reach their black belts.
My classes give me the knowledge of martial arts that is necessary, but without repetition and at home practicing, I will not become any better. But, doing well in my classes is equally as important to me as doing well on my home, because when I see my self training hard in classes I know that I am pushing my self. My goal concerning my classes is to take almost every class offered to me, and to push myself harder then in the class before.
By the time I reach my black belt, I will be able to do a three minute round on the bag without stopping. To achieve this, each time I work on the bag I will make my self throw a couple more kicks and punches each time I want to stop. Being able to do a split is necessary in all aspects of martial arts. Flexibility will keep me from becoming injured, and gives me higher kicks. When I attain my black belt I will be able to do a split. I will stretch an extra five minutes more then I do now every day, until I get my split. Then, I will keep up my flexibility training in order not to lose my split.
There is only one major obstacle in my training, and it is my knee injury. So because of that I have trouble with some basic parts of my training, such as, running, squats, and jump rope, when I use it for too long. In order to continue with my training despite these obstacles I swim instead of run, do push ups instead of squats, which is making me stronger, and when I jump rope I try to keep a slower steady pace as to not aggravate my knee.
That brings me to my next goal. My goal is too swim 1000 thousand meters in nineteen minutes by the time a reach my black belt. I swim two to three times a week, and when I get my time under what I want, I increase the distance. I will continue to do this until the time which a reach my goal. The time frame for this goal is much like the others, black belt. My black belt time frame is January of 2009.
I use my logs as a measuring sick, and a calendar. I write everything down on my calendar. I will write down the date which I want to reach my goals by and the dates I do my swim.
I am willing to do what ever in takes, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my school work, to achieve my black belt in the time frame I have set.
Hisardut is the Israeli survival system. In today’s world we are in much greater danger than ever before. Learning Hisardut is an important step to take in order to make yourself safer, to be able to protect yourself in times of trouble. Hisardut is centers around protection from terrorists, and personal protection, it includes all varieties of fighting in order to have a full scope of knowledge in the area of self-defense, and defensive fighting. Hisardut includes parts from different martial arts styles, military close combat methods, police use of force tactics, and techniques to use in actual situations between police, military personnel, security personnel, and civilians, and terrorists or criminals. All training involved in Hisardut is essential, no non-essentials are taught. Universal surviving methods are taught to be used to protect oneself as much a possible.
What the Black Belt means to me and why it is important for me to achieve it.
A black belt is more than just a piece of fabric to tie around my waist. It represents the three years of sweat, diligence, and work put into to my martial arts and life training. I think that the most amazing part of this journey is that it never ends. I am a firm advocate now, that the martial arts is a way of life and plan on using that black belt to inspire others to commit themselves to a goal and follow through with their commitments. Having had Shihan and Ma’am both take me under their wings, I am standing here before you a different person. Since February 9, 2005, I can tell you that I feel more confident in my ability to stand up for myself on the street, more confident in my demeanor, and have an overall different perspective to how I approach life, in general.
“Goals we set are Goals we get,” was the first affirmation ever taught to me at Moti Horenstein’s Mixed Martial Arts and it, all alone, is one reason why it is important to me to achieve a black belt. It is affirmations such as these that have allowed me to grow into a more responsible, and dependable independent young adult. I am constantly setting and resetting my goals and learning to recognize my achievements. I used to belittle the things I did, and the training I have received has given me a more optimistic approach to learning and living, which I now believe is essential to having a happy and successful life. For this, I want to say thank you.
My appearance, the confidence and life skills I have earned have helped me in accepting who I am and appreciating the way I am. It is blatantly obvious that when I started the martial arts, I had an array of complexes about my weight and the way I look and have struggled with that for many years. I have explored ways to make myself happier about the way I looked that have including with some crash diets and other things that I am not proud of, it was not until I got the coaching from Shihan and Ma’am on how to go about making these changes in a slower (but healthier manner) that I have been on my way to being more confident. Though there are still things I want to change about myself, I have become more mature in that I am not willing to harm myself in order to do so. In getting my black belt, I hope to send a message and set the example to other kids, especially young girls, that a healthy lifestyle is the way to go; moreover, that a confidence in yourself is more important than how others judge. This was proven to be true, when answering a prospect’s e-mail yesterday with Shihan, to a young teenage girl struggling with issues concerning weight and appearance. It is such a prevalent issue, especially with the standards proposed by this society, and it is so important for kids to have a role model and a lending ear for issues such as these. Having seen the support Shihan, Melissa, and recently Miss Katie have given me; I want to be A PART of that support team.
“Like it, Love it, and Want more of it.” This proves to be true in every aspect of the Martial Arts for me. I am constantly finding myself having a yearning to learn a new weapon, or a new kick, and watch intently with the hopes of gaining a greater understanding of a take down. The Martial Arts has proven to be a challenge for me, and a challenge that I have grown to love. It is common for a parent to come up to the front desk and say to me with a slight smile, “you’re a lifer,” and I, with a huge grin on my face reply, “and happy to be one!” The skills, drills, and people you meet in the Martial Arts have strongly and positively affected the way I have matured over the years. Growing up, I was never able to participate in after school activities because money was really tight, we were constantly moving, and to be honest, I didn’t have very many friends. I always found that I got along a lot better with adults and my teachers as opposed to fellow students: I was bullied. I am a bit eccentric and a free thinker, and being a part of the Martial Arts has allowed me to embrace this about myself and be more confident.
The black belt to me also represents health. Since age 7, I have struggled with over stressing myself, getting myself very frustrated, and an active history of migraines. Migraines, that for the past 8 or 10 months, have been non-existent. As I said, I approach life differently and while I still get frustrated with everything on my plate, I outlet the frustration in different ways. Like hitting the bag, practicing a form, or making a list of thins I can do to rectify a situation. I believe that I think about the things I do more before I act. This is beneficial especially with the pressures teenagers face with drugs and alcohol today. At homecoming this year, for example, I volunteered to be the designated driver and ended up to taking care of a girl who had way too much to drink and was left my the people she came to the party with. I am not saying that I haven’t made wrong decisions, but as time has progressed with me in the Martial Arts, I find that I am making more of the right ones.
It is difficult for me, to express into words, what MHMMA means to me. I really do feel like it is a family, and have devoted so much time and energy into the past three years there. While working there has taught and insurmountable amount about business, and taking classes has taught me a great deal about defending and protecting and taking care of myself, that family element has made everybody open to talk about anything. That is very comforting.
It is true, that there are a never ending amount of meanings that the black belt has and why it is important to me. Overall though, all of these reasons paint one big picture: that anything is possible with the right attitude, the right drive, and the right coach. With all of the problems, I mean obstacles; I have been faced with in the past seventeen years, I have been fortunate enough to fall in the hands of this academy. For every change I have made in my life, for ever opinion I have formed, every move I have learned, and very person I have met; this is what the black belt means. It is every goal that is ever set and met, and it is the never ending force that will lead to success. I feel like a different person than I was 3 years ago, and a lot of that I owe to Shihan Moti, Melissa, my parents and sisters, of course, Miss Katie, and my friends (who have changed undoubtedly throughout the years). In essence, you are the reason it is important to me. Whenever I lost hope, or was discouraged, you are the one’s to get me back on track and are, in a large part, the reason it is important for me to be not only a physical black belt, but mentally… and to be a role model to others.
I am honestly in disbelief writing this essay, as it is a surreal feeling to be this close to a black belt. Looking back, the time has flown by, and I am excited and eager to see what the future holds. Thanks again for everything you guys have given me.