Black Belt: What It Is and What It Takes by Nathan

Nathan is a provisional black belt candidate for 1st degree. Here’s his black belt essay, exploring what black belt means to him.

I really love this essay, and I love that Nathan is such a strong example for his kids and for other students in our school. I took the liberty of highlighting a couple quotes that really resonated with me. Enjoy!

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Nathan with two of his three kids.

“Black Belt: What It Is and What It Takes” by Nathan

The goal of reaching black belt has been no small task and one that NWSMA does not take lightly. For this, I am grateful. I feel to wear a black belt, it should mean something both to the wearer of the belt and to those around them. A black belt should never be a stop along one’s path in life, but rather a continuous road in itself, a life long attitude of learning, humility and challenge.

The training at NWSMA has been just this. It has been intense, focused and very, very fruitful to me personally. I have gained so much understanding, strength, and growth from my time with them both in the martial arts and outside it, that it’s hard to describe concisely all the benefits. However, what black belt truly means for me, now, is the same as what it meant to me when I started this journey about 5 years ago with my children. Black belt, to me, means family.

As a pastor in full time ministry, my time is precious and my time with my family has become priceless. Because of this, I knew I wanted something, a place, outside of the church where we could be together, learn together, grow together.

For our family, martial arts at NWSMA has been that place. Originally intending to just sit on the sidelines and watch my kids, I found myself drawn in by the opportunity to connect with my kids on a deeper level. Not only have I been there for every kick and form, encouraging them when they were challenged and cheering them on when they succeeded, but they have been able to do that for me as well.

Where otherwise our normal worlds of work and school, and the challenges we face in these environments, are often totally disconnected from each other, martial arts has allowed my kids to see how their father reacts to the same moments they face. It has given me the chance to model for them patience, diligence, commitment to growth and moments of humility. Sometimes doing it well, sometimes not doing it well at all. As they have watched me change from the same moments they do, it has allowed us to talk about them and grow from them together. It’s one thing to tell your kids what the right thing to do is, it’s another thing for your kids to see you try to do it yourself. Martial Arts at NWSMA has been one of those rare opportunities to live real life with my kids, unfiltered, with all it’s ups and downs, but do it together, where I still have a chance to help them along their way.

Black belt has also meant having an “extended family” of instructors and friends who have been committed to many of the same values that I seek to instill in my own family. As they work to grow in their own lives, our family has been able to grow along side of them, facing challenges together, loss together and victories together. It has given my kids a whole community of positive association to learn from, where I don’t have to worry about what kind of influence they are receiving.

I’m convinced that life is always lived better when you can do it in a team setting. The journey to black belt at NWSMA has been an invaluable piece to making that happen for my family and I.

About Sensei/YDN Caitlin

Sensei Yudanjanim Caitlin is a 2nd degree black belt, senior instructor, administrative assistant, and student of Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Arnis at Northwest School of Martial Arts.
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