Zen Martial Arts Center

Sacramento Martial Arts and Karate

            I never pondered the idea of getting a black belt until recently. When I started karate at 7 years old it was a distant idea. I didn’t think of it as something I would never accomplish, I just never thought of it.  It was so far away so what was the point?

            Over the 5 and ½ years since I started karate I’ve had so much support. My family has walked with me side by side in my journey. The black belt wouldn’t mean as much as it does to me now without my Sensei and his traditional ways. I also have an amazing dojo family. And of course there is Ms. Scott with whom I’ve shared this whole experience including all the laughter, tears, sweat and blood. My journey has been amazing but it doesn’t feel like it ends here. This is not my final goal. This is only the first step in a thousand mile journey.

            So today I attempted to put whatever feelings I had into words and write an essay. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a single syllable. Nothing came to me. I felt blank like there was no purpose to what I had just spent the last several months trying to achieve. It was like the black belt meant nothing to me. Just a next step, another goal to check off.

            My papa told me to go play some basketball in my room with the mini hoop I got as a Christmas gift because I couldn’t think of anything to write. Off course, the best advice comes from your parents and that held true this time. I jumped off the computer and went to my room to shoot some baskets.

            I stood at a medium range and with every shot I emptied my cup… metaphorically. With every shot I took a deep breathe, emptying my mind, canceling all noise and all surrounding distractions. One of the many tools karate has taught me to help me be my best person is meditation. I meditated and when I came back to writing I had it all there, it was just hiding from me deep, deep in my brain.

            I feel the black belt is just the next step in my journey. I want to be a black belt because I am a martial artist. I know deep inside that is who I am and that is who I want to be and will be for the rest of my life. I have never skipped a class unless I was sick, out of town or had too much homework. I have persevered throughout my black belt journey because I want to learn. I want to climb the mountain no matter how steep it is, because if it is not steep it is not a mountain. I have been inspired and now I want to inspire. Every day that I’ve walked into my dojo I’ve crafted and worked on turning myself into who I am today.

            To be honest competition drives much of me. I like to compete, I like to spar and of course I like to win, but it is okay when I lose. When I lose I often learn more than when I win. One of my favorite parts of karate is sparring, I truly like to fight but I know I should never use it to harm, only to stop harm. However I like knowing that I can take a punch, that I can withstand pain. I know that a million tournament trophies will never make a martial artist. A belt will never make a martial artist. A martial artist will make a martial artist.

           A black belt is more than a past achievement or trophy. A black belt is a way of life. If you stop learning and training you lose all sense of the black belt. The black belt is not a title or a PhD that stays with you your whole life. The black belt is what you make of it. It is simply just an object that shows on the outside you are a black belt. What you are on the inside is what truly makes the black belt. You can always buy a black belt but your training, your skill, your heart and brain is what makes you a black belt. The belt is just an object. You put the meaning and all it represents into it. Anyone can wear a black belt but not everyone is a true black belt.

           A black belt is a next step, another goal but not my last. I am a martial artist, no one can change that. I am not a basketball player or a football player. I am a martial artist. A martial artist is more than an ability to punch and kick, it is a way of life, a path, something you become. It takes more than skill, it takes heart. A black belt is my stepping stone. It is part of my journey, a journey that will never end. A black belt is what makes me, it will define me, and it will be my life.  

           So what is a martial artist? A martial artist is someone who trains hard and practices the martial arts and all its aspects, not just fighting or kata but kindness and compassion. Most of all they show respect, they are humble. All things I strive to be. 

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Comment by David Brezinski on January 12, 2015 at 4:19pm

Very nice essay, Mr. Ramos.  You are a true black belt; not just because you attained and can wear it to show the world, but because of who you are in your heart and what motivates you to become a better martial artist, son, student and positive contributor to society.   Thanks for your example!

Comment by Chrissy Scott on January 6, 2015 at 12:11pm

Well said, Mr. Ramos. I can't wait to see you in a black belt.

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