I have written before about how proud I am of my 11-year-old daughter, Jackie, for her four year dedication to martial arts training.
When she was seven, one of her friends wanted to attend a free class to learn about Karate, and Jackie decided it might be fun to check it out. Her friend did not sign up, but Jackie enjoyed the whole concept of martial arts and selected the training as her main extracurricular activity.
It has not always been easy, and at times she has been overwhelmed and exhausted by the physical training. The sparring and grappling with bigger kids was never her favorite part, but she just kept trying her best. She has mastered the weapons and open-hand forms, and exemplifies the heart of discipline as she has continued to reach for her goal.
Since the beginning she has set her focus on achieving the rank of black belt.
Last night was the graduation ceremony at the dojo, which followed last week's five hour exam (she had her "black belt recommended four hour test a few months ago). Jackie, and four others, attained the rank of "First Degree Black Belt".
At the ceremony she was required to break two boards, something that always gives her trepidation, but with a swift kick and another solid chop of her fist she split the wood and was awarded her belt.
The black belt was placed around her waist by Master Jaurez, who has been her teacher during the last four years. He has been tough and demands the best out of his students, but has also been a great role model and has a golden heart. He earns the respect of the students and the parents with his actions.
It has been more than just a "proud papa" moment in watching Jackie achieve this amazing accomplishment. This has been a lesson on dedication. Sure there were times that driving her to the school three to four days a week has been a hassle, but my wife and I have shared her commitment to the program. Many students have come and gone over the past four years, and only a small number have stuck with the training to reach this level. To quote part of their student creed: "Quitters never win, Winners never quit".
It was never fun to see my daughter having to fight older kids (boys), especially when she would get hurt. But learning to fight, box, grapple and defend herself is part of the program. Both Jackie and her parents learned that you are going to have to experience some difficulties and discomfort en route to success. She was not always the best fighter, but she always got on the mat and tried her best. Somewhere along the way she learned to get in there and mix it up very well.
Success brings confidence. No matter where she goes or what she does, Jackie knows that she earned a black belt. This is something not many people will ever do in their lifetime. I hope that when she grows up she will have this experience stored in the corner of her heart and that she can pull out that "Black Belt Attitude" to help her overcome any obstacle.
We all should remember our own achievements and use these memories to help us climb to the next level. You do not need to practice the martial arts to have a "Black Belt Attitude"... just live it.
Have A Great Day