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What I lost in Gaining a Black Belt

By Shauna Gordon

How often, as adults, do we venture beyond our comfort zones? For me, the answer was almost never. I had long felt content within the protective bubble of my comfort. Yet, witnessing my daughter embark on her karate journey and embrace something entirely new made me realize that what I perceived as contentment was, in fact, a lack of challenge in my life. When did I grow up and stop pushing myself, forsaking the excitement of new experiences without fear? It was at that moment that I recognized the need to challenge myself.


Kickboxing at The Dojo became my chosen challenge because I wanted to kick some of my deeply ingrained fears out of my life. Within my comfort zone, I always believed I was safe, devoid of any fear. In reality, it was quite the opposite. I had been harboring all my fears within that comfort zone. From a young age, I discovered that I had a vagus response to pain; I would pass out when I got hurt. Over time, I discerned a pattern and developed strategies to mitigate it, unwittingly fostering a significant fear of pain. While watching my daughter learn karate, witnessing her grasp the art of self-defense, learning how to properly punch, I wondered, 'how realistic is it to attempt to avoid any pain for the rest of my life?' That's when I acknowledged that I was doing myself a disservice by allowing fear to dictate my actions. It was time to shatter that bubble.


Choosing to enroll in the kickboxing program was my way of forcibly removing myself from my comfort zone, aiming to confront my fear in a controlled manner while learning techniques to safeguard myself effectively. Catching punches and kicks felt like a pretty good way to face a fear of getting hit. There have been countless days when I stepped onto that mat, anxiety clawing at me, fearing I might be hurt and pass out. Throughout this boot camp, I've been taken down more times than I can count, pushed past what I thought were my limits, and compelled to confront the fear that resided within me.


The liberation that comes with letting go and challenging myself has been so profound that I decided, during this boot camp, to take yet another leap beyond my comfort zone by committing to board breaking during the black belt ceremony. When you break boards, you cannot let fear control you; you have to believe you can go through the boards and not hold back, or you will hurt yourself. Steadying yourself, banishing all doubts and fears is the only way to board break, it's the only way to go through life.


Stepping into this new phase of my life, I've realized the transformative power of facing our fears. By embracing the discomfort of uncertainty and pushing ourselves beyond what we thought were our limits, we open up a world of opportunities and personal growth. It's in these moments of vulnerability and challenge that we truly discover who we are and what we are capable of achieving.


My journey from the comfort of my old self to the exhilaration of breaking boards and facing my fears head-on has been nothing short of remarkable. I have gained a profound sense of self-assurance and the knowledge that I am capable of surmounting any obstacle that comes my way. This journey began with the inspiration I found in watching my daughter and I hope that, when she witnesses me pushing through boot camp and shattering those boards during the ceremony, I instill in her the courage to confront her fears directly and become a source of inspiration for her.


This adventure has taught me that I need not be defined by the experiences of my past, and I no longer carry the same weight of fear I've carried since I was eleven years old. In gaining a black belt I lost the old me, I lost a burden that I put on myself when I was young, I lost my crippling fear.

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