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Cat MacDonald’s Journey to Black Belt Excellence: 

A Memoir in 564 Words

    Excellence: Noun. A quality of being outstanding or extremely good. I feel like that word is thrown around too much. A math teacher might say it to a kid who got a better score than half the class, or a baseball coach to a kid who hit a home run. I’m not saying that those things aren’t good, because they are. I’m just saying that they’re not exactly excellent. So what does it mean to achieve excellence? To me, excellence isn’t one solid thing. It is comprised of many smaller things that go into it, and that is what makes it special. Excellence is found in every small detail that may be overlooked by those who don’t know where to look. I believe that Black Belt Excellence is like that.


    Every kempo and combination is intense, carved down to its detailed edges, every form solid, sharp and immovable. Every kiai is loud enough to turn heads. A good pivot, or a well-defined flamingo thrown into the mix, and a mentality to leave every conversation or class with a list of things to work on, to work on them, and to come back the next time better than before . That’s what it means to have Black Belt Excellence. I feel like some people associate excellence with perfection, which is not at all the case. Perfection and excellence are vastly different, in fact. Someone telling me something is perfect gives me absolutely nothing to work with, while saying that it is excellent inspires me to keep working to make it even better. Perfection is something that one can strive for, but never attain.

    Furthermore, excellence isn’t something to be achieved once. Excellence is something that can be achieved many times throughout someone’s life, and I hope to continuously achieve it throughout mine.

    Achieving my black belt will be the beginning of a whole new journey, and I will keep growing in mind, body, and spirit, with the same (and some new) people to guide me. In some ways, my martial arts journey has been like a book. The starter classes that happen at the very beginning are the prologue, the context of the story, the suspense to reel you in. These are the parts that show you that you’ll enjoy the story. White belt all the way up to first degree brown belt are the long chapters of the book, where the plot takes place.


    The part where the not so random guy from the desert learns how to use a laser sword, or the girl travels to ‘not Kansas anymore’ in a tornado. That’s the part that has you reading on the edge of your seat for half of the time, sometimes even conspiring with random people on the internet about what plot twist will happen next. Black Belt Bootcamp has been the epic fight scene of that story, the part where the hero and villain duke it out.


    The part where all the pieces of the murder mystery come together, the part where they have fun storming the castle. It all leads up to the Black Belt Test, which will be the climax of the story. The part where the heroine slays the dragon and saves the world, or where the murderer is caught and sent to jail. The part that, when it is over, will have everyone saying “wow, that was awesome.”


   Finally, the ceremony and banquet are the epilogue. A little glimpse of the future to make people hope for a sequel. And a sequel I will give them. Maybe even a whole ten part series!

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