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We understand that gratitude is the #1 rule in black belt bootcamp, and it’s easy for me to see why. I am grateful for my healthy mind and body, my family and friends, and my education. I am grateful for my home, healthy food, music, my dog, and my weekends. I am grateful for clean water, and the ability to ride my scooter and dirt bike. I am grateful for sunshine, the sunset, and rain. And I’m grateful for my Dojo, my second home, and the endless opportunities it has given me over the past decade.


I like to express gratitude for specific things because it helps me to pay attention to the things that make me happy. If I have a lot, I enjoy giving it and seeing others happy. If I can help someone, that makes me happy too.


I’m grateful for my martial arts journey because it allows me to share knowledge. I would tell a fellow student that it takes time and perseverance. There is a lot to learn, but you can do it with focus and dedication. I would tell them they will most likely be challenged more mentally than physically. I would tell them that it’s important to get out of their comfort zone. I would also tell them that it will build their confidence just like it did mine. And as hard as it is, I try and be grateful for the struggles and challenges in my life because I know they also make me stronger.


I am grateful for my tournament experiences, from first place medals to honorable mention. I am grateful for the Demo Team led by Shihan Henry, and I’m honored to be a team Captain alongside Shodan Athen. Shihan Henry has been a huge part of my karate journey and my success. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, or all my awesome instructors who always took the time to help me.


I am grateful for this path because it’s taught me how to be humble and respectful. I can use my power for peace. It taught me how to be mindful and how to be a better listener. It has also taught me how to ask for help. All these things have helped me be my best self, and I will continue to grow every day in mind, body, and spirit.


I am thankful for the things I have in my life, and I appreciate them. I don’t know if I would have recognized how important gratitude was if it wasn’t for my martial arts training and hearing this #1 rule the first time from our leader, Master Shihan Kendall, on the rail trail during my very first bootcamp at age 9.


I achieved black belt excellence through gratitude. I will always return the favor and be there to support all those who have helped and supported me.

“My second-degree path has been about understanding the importance of Gratitude.”
By Chris Dowell

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