This I Believe

shabnam - san luis obispo, California
Entered on May 8, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

When I was twelve years old, I was sitting in a martial arts studio that my sister was attending and a boy in her class caught my eye. Of course, I coyly suggested to my mother that maybe I should also take classes. I told her that I thought it would be important for me to learn how to protect myself, and she agreed so I enrolled in Mr. Hamlin’s school of martial arts. My original reasons for attending soon faded, and I was left with the notion that I actually enjoyed going to classes and learning. Karate helped me to be less shy and gave me a sense of self-discipline. It also left me with long-lasting friendships and a sense of accomplishment. I believe in martial arts and its ability to improve my life.

Practicing martial arts became a large part of my life, and I was enrolled for about five

years. During this time, the most important trait that I acquired was self-discipline. I finished my homework on time and attended a couple of classes a night. The classes were structured and demanded a certain amount of physical and mental strength. Since I became accustomed to the demands of the karate school, I was successfully able to carry my willpower into other aspects of my life, such as school and obstacles that life presented.

Karate taught me that I can always push forward even when I’m physically and mentally exhausted. There were times when I wanted to quit and say that I couldn’t be pushed any farther. One class required the students to run eight miles and then fight off ten other students once we’d returned to the dojo. I was overwhelmed, but once I completed the task I felt that I could discipline myself to push forward no matter what the circumstances were. In life, I keep going even after I feel that there is no space to go any farther because through the training that I have received I know that I can keep going no matter what the obstacle may be. All it takes is believing that you can push through hardships.

I learned how to defend myself in class and even in real life. I remember one situation in which my cousin was pointing an airsoft gun at my friend and me, and I was able to disarm him. I think that was when I became truly convinced that the hard work in karate class was paying off. I enjoyed knowing that I would be able to put up a fight in case I ever needed to.

The most important aspect of taking martial arts for me personally was the friendships that I acquired and how much confidence I gained. I used to be uncomfortably shy and then I enrolled in karate and we had to have different training partners often, so I met many new people and learned how to hold conversations with people from the ages of four to sixty. I soon became less and less introverted and started to make good friends with the students that also took classes at Mr. Hamlin’s school. We formed bonds that lasted until this day, about seven years later. We still talk about the memories that we formed at the karate academy and all the times we were pushed so far by our instructors and lived to tell about it.

Karate taught me a great deal about myself, and I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to learn this sport.

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