The first thing you might notice, it’s all kids and moms. This is a statistically rare situation. You’d expect that once in a while, but mostly sibling partners and friends and classmates. This is all moms. Three of the moms are testing for their black belts. One mom learned all the attacks and combinations in the last month so that her child could test with a partner and maintain social distance. That is serious commitment. Extreme teamwork. It reconfirms a few things: family support for your goals is crucial. Statistics show that when a relative trains with someone, their chances of getting their black belt goes up exponentially.
Next, it’s June 2020. They trained through the pandemic. They didn’t just hold it down, they got better. They squinted at video screens, socially distanced at parks, aimed cameras at their feet, dodged dogs and cats, hit the laptop with swords and got bruises from tables and bed frames. Whatever was in their way, it didn’t stop them.
They are trailblazers. This is the very First class of graduates at Action Karate Mt. Airy. They set the standard. They didn’t see a bunch of other people do it first. They had the vision for black belt and could see it even when there was no precedent.
They were not this tough when they started. At least they didn’t know how strong they could be. They were hesitant to do karate, didn’t like it, weren’t in good enough shape, just trying it out or too busy. They became black belts by getting out of their comfort zone.
They weren’t smiling the whole time. There were tears, fights, tantrums, excuses, copouts, negotiations, begging, pleading and almost quitting. They didn’t quit. They decided as a family that they don’t quit. They finish what they started.
Back to the pictures. These were taken 48 hours before the test. It was the last practice before the final. Each one had to look their partner/family member in the eye and talk for two minutes about positive characteristics they see in their partner, how hard they worked, their inspiring attributes.
When the final test begins on Saturday and the frustration and fatigue sets in, one person in the room will be more important than everyone else. And those encouraging words spoken days earlier by that person may be all they have to hold onto. They were instructed to let those words sink in to support each other and push through. They need to remember that their partner is on their side. There will be moments of angst and insecurity and I can’t do this, and they will have to remember words like “I believe in you mom” and “I’m so proud of how hard you worked for this honey.” That internal response of confidence has to be ready, available to toss at all the negative emotions.
This one person is so important. Why? There’s no audience. No cheering fans, no room with hundreds of black belts like usual. Everyone has to earn their own black belt and it is an individual effort, but sharing it with someone they love to build something special makes it a more meaningful pursuit.