Owen, a 12 year old from the Upper East Side, fulfilled one of the mental components of his June 2017 black belt test in this reflective essay on what his martial arts journey so far has meant. Take a look for yourself:
BLACK BELT ESSAY
by Owen M.
Wow. This is it. I am here. After 6 years, 13 belts and over 800 classes, I have finally made it to the final challenge. I have been working towards this goal for more than half of my life. I feel like everything else in my life has just been practice, preparing me for this moment. In order for me to tell my full martial arts story, I must start from the beginning.
In 2011, the summer between Kindergarten and First Grade, a friend from camp told me about these fun karate classes he was taking. He invited me to take a trial class on buddy day. I came and had the most fun in my life. After those 45 minutes were over, I knew I wanted to do karate. Once I started taking classes, my love for the sport only grew. I loved all of my teachers and their senses of humor. I knew since then that I wanted to be a black belt, but I never imagined how impactful it would be on my life. I remember on a Wednesday night, coming home to see my parents all excited. That was when I got the tryout letter for Leadership. I remember that I was extremely nervous, but excited. A few weeks later, I got my TOP GUN badge. When that happened, I knew that I was getting close to the top. The first time I sparred, I was terrified, but I loved it. I started taking BJJ classes as well as karate when I got Leadership. I still love doing BJJ and I always look forward to the tournaments.
I want to thank all of the people who helped me on my journey: My parents for always supporting me and helping me at every turn. My brother Luke, who has been there every step of the way. My grandparents for always coming to my graduations. My Grandpa for coming to class once a week to cheer me on. All of the instructors who helped me along the way. The MMA staff for always being so helpful and happy. Mr. Flanighan for his sense of humor. And of course Mr. Sevilla who taught me so much. You taught me all of my combinations, your constructive criticism has kept me going, and you taught me what being a martial artist is all about. You taught me that it is not about how hard you kick or punch, or what color belt you have on. You taught me that being a martial artist is about how you carry yourself through your life. How you handle fear and doubt, and how you handle happiness and pride. It is about how you look upon yourself, and how you look upon others. That is what being a martial artist is about. After this test, no matter what the outcome, I will keep doing martial arts. The journey to black belt is almost over, but my next adventure is just beginning, and I can’t wait.