The transition from white to black belt has been a journey to say the least.
The amount of growth I’ve experienced on a personal and mental level, as well as a physical level, is not something I expected. There have been aspects of myself I did not realise needed growth until karate illuminated them. With each new belt has come new lessons, new challenges. It has always been a bitter sweet feeling shedding from belt to belt, hoping to each colour that you’ve done it justice as you fold it away into the shoe box with the others. As I’ve grown from belt to belt, I’ve noticed feeling more and more confident, or perhaps less and less afraid. The alleyways and short cuts home have become less threatening, or risky. This confidence also seems to have diffused to those around me, like my mum, whose goodbyes when leaving the house at night have changed from “Please be careful,” to “Please – oh it’s okay, you do karate.” The sense of safety within myself is a gift I have given myself, and a gift that has spread to others around me who love me. Whether it be peace of mind in my family or a feeling of protection around my friends. I have realised that personal safety, to an extent, is a choice. If you are able, you can choose to be defenseless, vulnerable, and consequently worried. Or you can choose to be protected to the best of your ability. Of course, situations that challenge this should never arise, but they do. And if they do, you can either be prepared or unprepared, and that is a choice. Another comforting thought is that the skills I have learnt are something that will always be with me, and are something that can never be taken away from me. No matter where I go in the world, or what I do, I will always have karate with me.
Despite all of the challenges of karate, I think one of the hardest challenges is starting. I think starting something you have no experience in and entering a community where you have no skill and know no one is one of the most intimidating things you can do. But accepting the vulnerability of not knowing something is the only way you can learn. I quickly realised that all of the black belts were once exactly where I was – even Shihan Malcolm. Soon you realise that everyone at the dojo is on their own quest with their own challenges, and just at different stages. I am lucky to have found a dojo where everyone is on your team. One thing I was not expecting was the level of community within the dojo. From the black cat Nem who protected the dojo to people like Senpai Andy who have dedicated so much time to help me improve without every asking for anything in return. I have been humbled by people’s efforts and desires for me to be the best I can possibly be, and this in turn has taught me to try and be a fulfilling part of that community and represent the same values and principles.
Madi will be doing her black belt promotion on the 11th of November 2018