Many of our teen students started their karate training when they were as young as four years old. They have all achieved their Black Belts.

Becoming a black belt is also important in life. One reason getting a black belt is important in life is that I will be able to set high goals, stick with them, and reach them, because getting a black belt is a high goal, and I have reached that goal. Another thing is that if I get a job, I will be able to stay focused because of the training I’ve received. It’s also important because if I were to be attacked, I could defend myself.

Schuyler Gearhart | Reading
Written at Age 12

When I came to karate I had little confidence in my abilities, or myself. Due to low self-confidence, I was a perfect target for bullies. I was always slouching over, looking at the ground, and always feeling nervous. Karate improved this greatly. Otherwise, I would not have tried out for the lead in my school play, (and got it) or had the intestinal fortitude to perform karate in front of an audience. I think I’ve changed a great deal over the last four years and karate has started me on the path to bettering myself. It has given me the confidence to not only help myself but others as well.

Karate has helped me learn how to be disciplined and focused, which has helped me in school. I am able to pay attention better in class and my grades have improved in the last two years. In fact, this year I made the honor roll.

Thomas Shafer | Wilmington
Written at Age 14

I don’t only use my leadership skills in karate. I try to use them in my everyday life. At school my friends come to me for advice and I try to help them the best way I can and I try to respect them and their beliefs like I’ve been taught by my karate teachers. I like my friends to have the sense they can trust me.

Julie Gustafson | Wilmington
Written at Age 13

The martial arts have given me self-discipline, taught me commitment and given me confidence. All of these, I could not have achieved without the help of all the wonderful students and instructors at the Academy of Traditional Karate.

Patrick McKeon | Woburn
Written at Age 16

By taking Karate it has also given me confidence to go up in front of a lot of people and talk or demonstrate. I’ve been doing karate for 5 years and it’s taught me self-discipline and respect. It’s been a wonderful experience for me.

Jesse Vardaro | Woburn
Written at Age 13

I feel that karate has been a challenge for me. I strive for challenges now. For example, in school, in P. E., the teacher asks for a volunteer. I go for it. It’s a challenge because I don’t even know what he’s going to ask me to do. A challenge is something you take on, not shy away from. When I hear a challenge, I say “I’ll do it.” Before karate, I might not have done that; I would’ve shied away. But, since karate, I seek challenges.

Brian Greenfield | Reading
Written at Age 14

There have been many aspects that karate has done for me. One aspect is that it has helped me be more confident in myself, in school and in other activities. Also it has helped me focus on my school work and not get distracted. Another way karate has helped me in improving my physical body strength and it enables me to endure hard work.

Matthew Bocchino | Wilmington
Written at Age 15

A black belt should believe that the black belt is not a piece of cloth but the person behind it. I believe a black belt should have a positive attitude about what they do. I also think a black belt should put good effort into everything they do, in the dojo, in school, or at home. I think these two traits together mean that you give your best effort at whatever you do, and if you try your absolute best and fail, you walk away with your head down in shame? No, you don’t because you gave it your all and you have then learned what you need to improve, and practice more.

Nicholas Candelino | Burlington

At this point in my life, I don’t feel that I have yet made any great achievements. I have always tried my best in school and worked hard at playing many different sports, but don’t think those are things that will be remembered as I grow older – something that you “tell the grandchildren about!” Achieving my black belt would be.

Before starting karate, I was quiet and afraid to try new things. I don’t think that I had all that much confidence. Then I started karate and noticed the difference in how people at the dojo acted. They were confident, but modest. They were strict, but understanding of beginners and their mistake. Over the last few years, by having me complete leadership hours, I’ve become confident as a leader. Also, having to perform in front of large groups of people has made me more confidant in my skills.

Sarah Lopez | Reading
Boston University Student

I think karate can help me in the future with many aspects of my life. It has already helped me in school. It has taught me how to focus and to have self-control. It has helped me in sports. I play soccer and my position is goalie. It has helped me become a pretty good one too because I have good reflexes and concentration. I also have a hard kick which helps me get the ball a good ways down field. I think it will help me in the future when I get a job because it has taught me not to give up and if you work hard enough and have the dedication you can accomplish just about anything.

Blaine O’Leary | Wilmington

Respect is one of the main aspects of karate. Respect is earned over time and there are no shortcuts… Respect ties in with responsibility. When you are respected, often you become a role model for younger students. They look up to you and watch the kinds of things you do. If you are rude, lazy, or sloppy in practice they might think that it is okay for them to do that too. It is your job to continue to try and live up to the trust and the respect people have for you. Doing your best no matter how hard something that’s appreciated and respected.

A Black belt is a white belt that never quits. This turn is one of the biggest and it really separates you. Your black belt is more than just a piece of cloth, it’s a symbol of all the hard work you earned through the years and if you’re serious about your training. I owe a lot of my life accomplishments to karate. From all the years of karate one of the things that I have accomplished is being an honor roll student.

With the practices of concentration and focus I’ve been able to succeed in school. The application of practicing something and dedicating yourself to a goal showed in school. Also, in karate you practice the concept of discipline and respect. Every time you bow in class to the shomen you show respect. You show respect to your elders, parents, troops fighting for America, head instructors, and Shihan. With the concept I have always received good conduct grades from my teacher and have shown respect to all of them.

Nick Vardaro | Woburn
Started at age 5, Currently attending Stonehill College

I have been involved in karate for over 10 years now. So far my experience has been completely positive. I have gained strength, flexibility, and the ability to handle myself in a difficult situation. However, the enormous leaps in character I have made far surpass the physical ones. I have become more focused, and a better teacher, student, friend and family member. The principles and basic elements karate I learn here can positively apply to every facet of my life.

One of the main things I have learned during my training is focus. Before I started karate I couldn’t concentrate on anything, and even things I enjoyed could only hold my attention for a short amount of time. Over the years I’ve developed a keen sense of focus, and been able to excel in both karate and school.

My favorite part of the art is having the privilege to pass it on to others. While getting up at 8:30 on a Saturday morning to be in a room with 20-30 screaming children for an hour and a half might not seem like fun to most teenager, it is time I cherish. It is truly the most rewarding thing I do.

The time I have spent in the dojo has been priceless. Instead of just going to the gym like most of my friends, I have been able to work out in a great and supportive environment while developing useful life skills along the way.

Brian Casey | Reading
attended the dojo from age 5 to 18, before going away to College

First, of all I would like to thank my parents for getting me into Karate. I clearly remember the day they came to me and suggested the idea that I do Karate. I remember think, “this would impede on my guitar playing, I’ll never have free time,” but my sister and I decided to go for it and we joined the Academy of Traditional Karate. The first day we joined a class I felt as probably every single person felt when they do something new, goofy, awkward and nervous. The nervousness was destroyed right away by the great atmosphere present in the dojo and through time, I am now in my fifth year of taking Karate; I am beginning to get over the awkwardness of some of the techniques.

I am glad I went ahead in joining the Academy of Traditional Karate. It has improved me both physically and mentally. Before taking Karate, I was unfocused, uncoordinated, and couldn’t do a pushup. Also I didn’t have that much confidence in my work, whether it is Karate, school or anything else. Now I am very focused in on want to accomplish and I can usually accomplish my goals. I have gone from being very clumsy to a well balanced person. Also, through the training, I have developed into a strong, quick person. Most importantly, I am confident in my work. Whether it is in the dojo, at school, or at home, I have great pride for my work.

Mike Blewitt
attended the Academy from Elementary School through High School, currently at Univerity of Massachusetts, Lowell

Another important aspect that I have learned is to concentrate and focus to the best of my ability. I have seen a big improvement in my school work and in my home since taking Karate. My concentration is more attentive and I feel more confident in myself. I have been making high honors in school and I feel Karate has helped me achieve this.

Mike Mahoney | Reading
written when he was in Middle School

Karate has taught me so many things, but the most important thing maybe just to relax and breath. In the very busy life I live, that will be a very important life lesson for me. Many times I have gotten all worked up over nothing, but I just take a big breath and it all seems a little better. You have to deal with things going on now. You can deal with the events coming after when they happen. Now, just worry about what is going on around you at that second. If someone is attacking you, you can’t think about what you should have done to a void this. You must concentrate on what you are going to do to get yourself out of it.

Kim Perley | Tewksbury
now attending Brown University, former Tewksbury High Valedictorian

Joining karate five years ago, I thought I was joining something that would be fun and would teach me “cool looking” karate techniques. I never expected one that would draw me in and keep me captivated for so many years. I never imagined that I would work so hard and feel as accomplished as I steadily worked my way up in rank.

I have realized what is important to me. Whereby watching television for hours on end is unimportant and unsatisfying, taking a karate class that will help me to achieve my black belt is very important and very satisfying.

Andrea Lopez | Reading
currently attending Holy Cross

My confidence went up tenfold while training at the dojo. At first, getting up in front of the class to demonstrate a bunkai was torturous. Now, however, it’s no sweat. I feel more comfortable getting up in front of large groups of people. For instance, a couple weeks ago, my band played a gig, and when I got up on stage in front of the crowd, I wasn’t nervous.

John Mitropoulos | Reading

One of the key elements and benefits of the martial arts training for all who participate in it is the improvement of one’s self-discipline. Certainly this ability to control one’s self, especially one’s conduct, has been particularly helpful in my life, as I am sure it has in the lives of all who are familiar with it. Karate is one of the few “sports” in which the weight of competition is placed solely ion the individual. One can be coached along the way, but when it comes down to the wire, the only thing standing in the way of accomplishment in one’s self. With this mind set, it is really no wonder that the act of coaching or disciplining one’s self has become central to the martial arts.

Alex Scott | Reading
Written at Age 18, 2004 Reading High Valedictorian, went on to graduate in 3 years at McGill University in Canada

I began karate training to learn how to defend myself if I ever were to be attacked. Over the past six years I have not only learned how to defend myself but also I have developed self-discipline, respect, and commitment. Karate has kept me in great physical shape as well, My enrollment in this art has been a big influence in my life.

Derek Concannon | Wilmington

Karate changed me in so many ways it’s hard to list them, from mental things and physical things. One major aspect of karate that’s helped me is discipline. Along with discipline comes respect, which is hard to find these days. Karate has taught me to respect elders and all people for that matter. When I joined karate, I didn’t know I would be learning things such as that. I though I would be doing back flips by the time I was a green belt. But I found out otherwise. Karate is an art, not a reason to fight.

Karate taught me to be patient with others..It is interesting how such an art form that other people may think is so violent, can be so peaceful.

Jhai Sinnatamby | Reading

Along with my patience for other people, the patience I have with myself has also grown. If I don’t get the first point in a kumite match, I don’t pout or kick the ground. I take a deep breath, and get right back in there, ready to score the next one. It applies to many things in my life. If I’m trying a snowboarding trick and I fall, I get right back up and try again. I I get a bad test grade, I study twice as hard for the next one. I am able to use my failure as feedback, not fuel for a temper tantrum.

John Mitropolous | Reading