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Black Belt Essay

By Lucas Ting

I used to struggle a lot with letting go of things that upset me. Sometimes it was in school, where a kid could say something mean or I could get a bad grade, and then I would be sad or mad for the rest of the day.


Around then I started karate. I was 8, and had fun. Things continued as they were. Fast forward 2 years and I was going up for my junior black belt. In boot camp I hit a wall. It turns out the myths were true. The instructors do make it intense, and do like to yell. I remember being really disheartened because critique and punishment were often given as a group. If one person took too long, we all did pushups. If I messed up, everyone got yelled at and vice versa. 


As I mentioned, I was bad at letting this go, and when I got yelled at, I would remember it. The first bootcamp was rough and I kept on looking at the clock and waiting for it to be over. After that, my dad gave me many pep talks, about taking a step back and teaching me to not let the bootcamps get in my head. That was the first time I truly learned to let something go. 


However, that was only a step in the right direction. Things still got to me very easily, and I still would sometimes hold on to things. 


Shortly after getting my junior black belt, I took a year and a half break because of Covid. In that time, I got better at letting things go, I believe I started to grow out of it as I got older. 


After I returned to karate, I remembered next to nothing of the long list of skills required for being a black belt. It took commitment, and coming to the Dojo 3 times a week in order to relearn forgotten things before the next boot camp. I had to accept that I was not as good as I once had been. 


Boot camp rolled around, and I was on the list of candidates for fall. I remember thinking, “Oh gosh, now I have to wake up at 6:00 am on Saturday.” The first boot camp, history repeated itself, and I was exhausted. We did running, pushups, and sparring. Lots of sparring. After that I decided to make sure I was able to stop when I needed to because I felt like I was going to throw up. Following the first session, I noticed a change. The instructors were still yelling, but I could take a step back and go past that. I was still doing pushups, but I could move on from them. As I am nearing the end of black belt boot camp, I still take the criticisms seriously,  but I have learned, letting things go is not only part of achieving a black belt, but also part of the journey of life.

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