1st Dan Essay
My name is Christopher Becker, and I am a student of Shotokan karate at the USKL dojo in Upland, Ca. I resumed my karate training in March of 2011, after having trained approximately 25 years ago. As a teenager I lacked self confidence, having grown up in a household with an alcoholic parent who was verbally abusive. Experience with bullies in middle school prompted the need for self defense skills, and the afore-mentioned self confidence. At about 14 years of age I began training at the IKA(International Karate Association) dojo in Pasadena, CA., led by Shihan Dai Tom Serrano. The IKA dojo taught Gosoku Ryu(hard/fast) karate, a style with roots in Shotokan and Goju Ryu. In 3 years I obtained the rank of 1st kyu brown belt and was eligible to test for 1st dan, but never did. As I transitioned out of high school and began college, as well as a full time job that I worked to put myself through college, I did not maintain my karate training. The goal of improved self confidence, and ability to defend myself had been accomplished, and my impression of the value of karate training would eventually lead to my resuming training these many years later.
As my life progressed, I eventually had 4 children and established my family in Claremont, Ca. As my oldest son reached approximately 5 years of age I wanted him to experience the self confidence, self defense skills, physical conditioning and morals learned in karate training. I know for a fact that the skills I learned in karate training served me well in the years after I ceased training, and I wanted my son to have a head start in developing these skills. I am a strong believer in the Shotokan style of karate, and was very pleased to find a dojo close by that not only taught Shotokan, but was a dojo close in spirit to the original dojo in which I trained. It was especially rewarding to visit the dojo for the first time and see pictures on the wall of people I trained with “back in the day”. I think I decided I wanted to resume my karate training on the first day I waited for my son Lance to complete his first karate class. I was in the middle of a career change at the time, and would shortly begin another year of full time work and full time college, so I would not be able to resume my training immediately. In March of 2011 I did resume my karate training, with the goal of obtaining the black belt rank that I did not achieve when I was younger.
Resuming karate training has been mentally, physically, and spiritually rewarding. I enjoy the constant pursuit of perfection through countless revisions in technique. I find karate training is a very mentally challenging endeavor. One must constantly be monitoring one’s technique for proper execution. I enjoy the challenges of performing kata, where there always seems to be a deeper level of understanding in how to execute movements. I find that I have many physical limitations that I do not remember struggling with when I was a younger karate-ka. I know I will forever be working to overcome these limitations. I especially enjoy the spiritual side of karate training. The many parables and precepts we are exposed to in the reading assignments for the 1st Dan rank, as well as the other materials, such as the readings on the dojo walls, dojo Kuhn, etc. are inspirational, and serve to help me developthe character that I wish to have. This spirit of inner peace and patience that is a central part of learning karate is excellently suited to having a family and children, as well as being a high school teacher. This last concept, that of developing my character, is the one that I find is the most important of karate training. The development of my character transcends the development of self confidence, the ability to defend myself, and the never ending pursuit of the proper execution of technique. The development of one’s character is, in my opinion, the highest order of karate training, and in my opinion, is probably the most rewarding part in the pursuit of the black belt rank.