Students training for Black Belt are required to write a paper about what their Karate training has meant to their life and what they hope to accomplish in the future.
This dojo that I have trained in for the past 9 years of my life has been a place of improvement and fun. The people that I have met have had such a huge impact on my life, and how I present myself to others. Seriously, the community that the Academy of Traditional Karate has is unlike any other that I have experienced. There is a sense of belonging when I am inside the dojo’s walls, with my feet on the mats while I stand in yoi. There could not have been a better dojo for me, no doubt in my mind.
I started training when I was 7-years-old, back when I would get stars in my folder for doing a good job. I was a little, tiny kid that never knew anything about martial arts or what they represented, but boy did I enjoy it. The atmosphere of the Academy kept me coming back, and also my mother of course. What I didn’t know, however, is that exactly when I started, ATK was already working on making the best version of me. Right off the bat, they were teaching me life lessons that stuck with me. We would all sit down at specific times in class, and talk about all these characteristics of black belts. They wasted no time in teaching us that there is much more to a black belt than meets the eye. It was about being able to defend yourself, but that was only a portion of what it took. These stories and teachings actually stuck with me, and they always give me new perspectives.
As a grew up and acquired some new, nice-looking belts, It never occurred to me how big of an impact that the Academy had on me as a person. It wouldn’t come until now, 16 years of age, that I would realize that the Academy is what shaped and molded me into who I am. Prior to karate, I was incredibly timid and doubtful. I would walk around with my head down, staring at the floor and avoiding people. There was no confidence in me at the time, but it all changed as I continued my journey of martial arts. Karate taught me so much more than I signed up for, and I will forever be grateful for them. I felt confident in my karate, but also myself. They taught me self-discipline, courage, focus, respect, and confidence at such a young age. ATK focuses on both the character-building side of a black belt just as much as the karate side, and I believe that is why I have become a much better person. Without their guidance, I could not imagine who I would have become.
The staff at the Academy of Traditional Karate also makes the dojo feel so much better. The enthusiasm and charisma that they bring into class were what inspired me to work harder. There is one instructor, however, that has influenced me the most. He has worked with me through my years of training, and he is one of my biggest inspirations. That person is Shihan Goddard. He is the person that I look up to when training, and I am so grateful that I was able to work with him throughout these 9 years. He would check my kata, work with me on drills, and basically coach me when I would lead classes. Following and admiring his examples, I would feel so confident teaching classes by myself. As a purple belt, I attended Shidokan, which was a tournament being held in New Hampshire. Shihan pulled me off in classes and taught me how to spar, and I credit him for how well I did. He also made karate so much fun and made me excited to attend classes. He taught soft swords, and my friends and I had a blast in that class. He would always beat me in fights, but sometimes I would get him. I would always follow Shihan’s lead, and he has played such a key role in my karate journey.
Thank you Shihan, Thank you team Elite, and thank you ATK for helping me become the best black belt I could be.
Written by Ethan Ryan