December is a special month. Not only is it special due to all the holidays, goodies, and fun, but for our organization it is time for our semi-annual black belt test. Every six months we travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico to join all of our sister schools in this three day event. Master Bruce Davis, and Master Phil Gilbert, our organizational leaders, put their all into making each test unique and memorable every time. Each portion of the black belt test is designed to challenge the candidates to their limits, mentally, physically, and spiritually. This go around we have four of our junior students testing, and they have all worked so hard to get to where they are. Three junior first degrees, and a junior second degree.

The journey to getting a black belt is incredible and challenging. As instructors, we love to see the transformation each student makes as they go through their journey. The changes are sometimes drastic and surprising, while other times subtle and expected, but each are important in the journey. As each belt is earned we can always see the confidence rising in the students eyes as they put their new colored belt around their waist. When this time of year comes around it’s an honor to watch these students test, because at black belt, something in everyone changes instantly, and as an instructor it is always a tear jerking kind of proud moment to see that change. In our system, reaching black belt is only the first step of the journey. Not only are their 10 belts leading to black, but there are also 10 degrees of black belt. We have said before that karate is a lifetime sport, and it really is. You can always learn, grow and mature in the system, and that’s the beauty of martial arts.

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