Hi Guys!

This is Kailen. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m currently a Brown III belt and will be testing for my Bo-black in October (If you’re at that test, you’ll easily recognize me as the woman who is ‘too terrified to move’ preceding my board-break).

I’ve been training at Stryker Martial Arts for a little over 2 years now, and have set the goal to earn my Black Belt in December 2011 — and now that it’s officially written in a blog post, I’m holding myself accountable (nothing like a little pressure to keep you on task!). I am also afforded the luxury of working at the school, so at times I’ll be posting on the online dojo.

The first order of business is for me to send a formal welcome to all of our new karate and kickboxing students for the month of September!

New Students in September!
Andrew C.
Leo C.
Sonia C.
Caroline C.
Siobhan C.
Tamber E.
Ahmad F.
Amy F.
Leo J.
Jason M.
Cooper M.
Corbin M.
Bridget M.
Vickie N.
Ida O.
Colleen P.
Addison P.

I hope you’re giving these folks a round of applause right now, or at least a silent nod of recognition. Yes I’m serious!  As we ascend the ranks of the belt-class I think it’s only natural to forget what it was like to be a White Belt.

I know that my own experience was not the easiest transition into foreign territory. First, some background: I’m not the most graceful person, and I have sprained my ankles more times than I care to write — just through the simple act of walking.

Having had a crush on Ralph Macchio as a youth, and donating years of my life to viewing “The Karate Kid“, I somehow remained blissfully unaware that this devotion was little preparation for actively participating in the martial arts. So to say that I was ill-equipped and extraordinarily naive in my pursuit is a very fair estimate. But still, I was absolutely determined to give it a shot.

I signed up, suited up, and timidly got on the mat with the rest of the class.

So there I stood, in the back of the class (right up against the bags) … desperately hoping that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself and wondering if I would EVER be able to rotate my hip in such a way that a roundhouse kick could happen. The experience was a strange mixture of being frustrating, exhilarating, fun, and scary.

I was so far out of my comfort zone that I seriously began to doubt my ability to go on. But I did continue. Gradually, I realized that all of the higher belts on the mat had already gone through what I was experiencing (although perhaps without the unrealistic expectations I created from watching “The Karate Kid’ ad nauseam).

Everyone started as a white belt, and everyone experienced some level of frustration and doubt. It’s a shared experience that we can all empathize with regardless of your fitness level or goals. I personally still have many moments of frustration within my training, but I’m now aware that these periods of frustration are usually rewarded with growth. And it’s the growth that makes it all worthwhile (case in point, I actually CAN perform a fairly solid roundhouse kick now. And I think even Mr. Ralph Macchio would be impressed with the progress I’ve made).

So what’s my point? My point is that once you ‘get it’ and realize that everyone on that mat has had a similar experience, you take it out of the equation. Once I realized that every Black Belt in the front of the class started off as an unsure White Belt in the back of the room, I was able to take that off the table. I worried less about how I looked to others, and concentrated more on what I was doing – which made the overall experience much more fun.

When you walk into your next class, please take a second to remember what it felt like to be new at this. And then introduce yourself and extend a warm welcome to our newest members. I’m sure they’ll benefit from knowing that you’ve been there, and that you ‘get it’.