A Blog Post by Karen Silverman

This blog post was written by Mrs. Karen Silverman after she earned her black belt a year ago. It never made it onto the blog at that point, but I just saw it recently and felt that is was definitely something that many of you would be interested in reading. Thank you Mrs. Silverman for this well written piece about your journey to your black belt!

Almost 2 weeks later it’s finally settling into my brain. After 12 years of effort, dedication, sacrifice, passion, perseverance, anger, frustration, fear, uncertainty, euphoria, I have finally broken through to the other side. I am a Black Belt. Achieving a Black Belt is like riding the scariest, most exhilarating roller coaster: You never knew what was going to be around that next corner but you knew it was going to make you scream and get your heart pumping like nothing else.

A necessary sense of self assuredness and an attitude of never ever giving up both on and off the mat coupled with the ever present dose of also feeling humble is a great part of what it means to be a Black Belt. It’s one of those things I thought I understood long before I really did. Sometimes my journey felt like a real battle and I was my own biggest and meanest opponent. This is where my faith in my teachers became critical. I had to learn to trust that they knew more and better than I did and if they told me to do something there was a reason. I also had to believe that if they told me I could achieve this, then I could. Only when I really allowed myself to get out of my own way, could I can embrace how deeply meaningful this was in my life, and know the reward of my new belief system is mine forever.

My prize was the gift of always doing my absolute best despite my own personal challenges. Everyone has his/her own challenges, some can be seen yet many others can not, and my feeling of success came by pushing through those challenges and knowing that I wouldn't let myself off the hook. Training for a Black Belt will always thrust us well past where we think we could ever go. The euphoria comes from knowing that we underestimated ourselves and that we are capable of so much more that we thought. For me, that was my dream realized.

Each one of us is a unique individual and our path to our Black Belt will be just as unique, personal and incredibly special. Like so many of us, my life is multi faceted: having a demanding profession, raising a family, maintaining a household, and devoting the necessary time to my training. All this takes some aggressive juggling and certainly sacrifice. In my dictionary, Sacrifice is the byproduct of deciding how important a thing is in our life and accepting what we are willing to give up or postpone in order to achieve that goal. This is where I could always feel the support of my family,knowing how much they believed in me. When I speak of family, I mean my martial arts family as well as my “Silverman” family. I am quite sure that was when my own door to my Black Belt opened wide and I raced through it. Though the journey and the accomplishment are mine, I never had to make that trek alone. Totally the opposite, it would have been impossible to have reached this goal by myself.

As I was thinking about how to put my thoughts into words for this blog, I would find myself sort of caressing my gold coin on its chain around my neck. It’s interesting how certain objects have taken on so much value and meaning to me, not because of their intrinsic value but because they embody the quest to discover Black Belt Me. My Black Belt, my ½ gold coin are now two of the most amazingly valuable things I will ever hope to own. When I wear them, I am reminded of how strong a woman I have become. I am also reminded of how much more learning and growing there still is.