In preparing for my Black Belt graduation, I did some research for the speech I had to give. Did you know that for every 10,000 people who join a martial arts academy, half will drop out in the first six months?! Of the remaining students, about a thousand will complete a year and then quit. Five hundred will make it two years, but only 100 will make their third anniversary in training. On average, fewer than twenty will achieve a first degree black belt. This is about 0.2% who start training, and actually achieve the accomplishment of black belt. This statistic makes me sad. Grand Master Edward B. Sell always told us that, “A Black Belt is a White Belt that never quit”. To begin training is an awesome decision. To continue training is a life changing decision! The journey from white belt to black belt will affect your mind, body, emotions, spirit and family.
When I look back over the years to where I began, I am amazed at the changes in my life. The memories of my personal life are intertwined with my training. Every class, form and test changed me and my life for the better. My wish would be for everyone that chooses to start this journey to complete it, but that is not always the case. In some instances, the decision to stop training is not voluntary, but out of the students control due to injury or other issues that arise. I saw a t-shirt that said, “If it was easy, everyone would have one”, with a picture of a black belt below it. This is a very true statement. Trust me when I tell you, the accomplishment is worth the journey!
The journey to achieving a black belt in Taekwondo is not one you travel by yourself. So many people influenced my life and training; enriching my life and training with wisdom, encouragement and love. From Grand Master Edward B. Sell, Grand Master Brenda J. Sell, to the Masters Twyman, associate instructors and my fellow students, everyone has left an impression in my life. I am so very grateful to have these people in my life. This is why I made it this far, and you can too!