Black Belt Essay – Sarah Hayes
Life Ki-do: My Second Home
Sensei Doug really enjoys telling the story of how when I was little (around four), I made my goal of achieving my midnight blue belt very well known…to everyone. I look back on that now and it makes me laugh, not because it is no longer a goal of mine, but because at the age four it was something I wanted simply for the reason that not everyone else had one. Although this certainly seems like a childish reason to me now, I am so very glad that such an idea came to me as a little girl. Over the years, this goal of “getting something not everyone gets” has transformed itself into a passion, and a life-long journey that I never want to end. Today, I look at this test, not as another belt, but as a key to unlock the path ahead of me in my training and involvement at Life Ki-do.
I remember back to my classes at the power ninja level, how we would always stretch at the beginning of class, how warm-ups always seemed really intense, and how getting blue, red, or black tape on my belt was the greatest thing ever. When I think about how much our dojo has changed over the years, one big thing sticks out to me because it’s always been the same no matter what it was that I was learning, or how it was taught to me…I have always been supported with love from my instructors and fellow students. This constant love and support is something that I think is truly unique and special about Life Ki-do, and it’s something I wouldn’t trade for the world.
These last five years, training has become such a wonderful way for me to relieve my stress from school too. If I’m ever really exhausted or just over-worked, all I have to do is step into the dojo and chances are someone will smile at me or ask how my day is going and my answer will always be “better now that I’m here”. This is because I know that no matter how I am feeling, no one is going to judge me for it, they will only help me to feel better. Not to mention the fact that I love training and working hard because I know that I’m doing something good for my body; staying healthy and as fit as possible has always been a goal of mine.
My training at Life Ki-do, both martial arts and leadership skills, has given me an unwavering confidence in myself. I have discovered that I am strong enough to deal with whatever physical or life related challenge that is thrown at me. This confidence has made me very open to trying new things, and to opening my heart and caring for others.
I have always seen myself as an optimistic person, though I used to think that optimism came from just not thinking about the bad parts of life or just putting them off for later. Now, because of Life Ki-do, I know that the optimism I see in myself comes from being able to accept what may be going wrong and get past it without letting the negativity destroy my day. To be optimistic doesn’t mean you can’t see the ‘bad things’ in life, it just means you have to be able to accept them and get around them.
Sometimes getting around those things takes monumental determination, another trait that I feel Life Ki-do has helped to develop in me. Whether my challenge may be a huge test coming up in school, or leading the Samurai class, or three on one sparring, Life Ki-do has helped me to develop that determination that I know can get me through anything.
Life Ki-do has also shaped they way I perceive and interact with other people. Whether it be through my leadership training or just the joy that I have found working with children and teaching different people of all ages, I know how to see the faults in a person, accept them, and work around them. Because of Life Ki-do, I can see the beautiful potential that every person has, and I want to make it my goal to help them achieve it. Every person has good and bad qualities, and every person deserves to be loved.
I’ve always thought of myself as a very intuitive person, finishing other people’s sentences and almost reading my friend’s minds sometimes. But, through Life Ki-do, I’ve been able to become even more in-tune with how people react and respond, through their body language, voice, or what they’re saying. I think that my ability to pick up on how others feel and respond to them in a way that makes them feel safe, comes primarily from my leadership training, and through all of the work we have done with how our own posture, tone, or volume can effect the people we teach.
In comparison to other people, I most definitely lead a wonderful and privileged life with people who love and support me everywhere I look. There are only a few things in my life that I would even consider to be ‘obstacles’ or ‘challenges’, one of them being the amount of stress I get from school. Between the eight advanced courses I take, the amount of homework I receive, and balancing it all out to accompany time for karate, and theater rehearsals, things can get a bit hectic and crazy. But, Life Ki-do has given me the ability to relax myself and plan out what needs to happen so that I can get all of my work done efficiently and effectively.
Another stress causing thing in school is when figures of authority don’t act or treat me like how I would expect to be treated by a teacher, and do not perform their job to the best of their abilities. Namely my technical theater director, a man whom I have to work closely with if I do any sort of technical role. When I’m at Life Ki-do, all of my instructors treat me with love and respect. As for this specific director at school, I feel that he would be a prime example of the antithesis of the Life Ki-do way. But, my training at Life Ki-do has helped me immensely in dealing with my stress, working to the best of my ability, and not letting the negativity of one person get me down. Because honestly, in the grand scheme of things many years from now, and insolent figure of authority in my high school years is not going to matter at all.
While many people I know seem to stress about what life is going to be like later, I know that no matter what challenge my come up, I have the tools to deal with it. Life Ki-do has given me confidence, support, and endless way to de-stress and reorient myself with what is most important in life, caring for the people I love and also taking care of my own needs.
Through all of my training, work, and involvement at Life Ki-do, I have discovered that working with and teaching people, especially children, is a huge passion of mine. Everyday, I am captivated and in awe of the innocence, unending curiosity, and continual desire to learn more, that I see in the children at Life Ki-do. I want to make it a life-long goal of my own to live with that same curiosity and desire to learn as the kids I work with.
Life Ki-do is a like a second home for me, it’s a place where people love and accept me, and I enjoy being. I can honestly and truly say that without the influence Life Ki-do has had on me, I think I would be a completely different person. I give my never-ending thanks to all of the instructors and people at Life Ki-do for shaping me into who I am today, a person who is capable and prepared to take on the world, along with all of its challenges, and do it with a smile on my face.