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"One of two things can happen," a young Sensei John says to himself.
"I'll break it, or I won't. And about 300 of my teachers and peers will watch me fail."
With only six months of training behind him, a young, timid 12-year-old boy stands before a sea of people at a school assembly. Before him lays a giant piece of concrete. Beside him, a tall man with an unwavering sense of confidence in Sensei John's abilities. But in front of him was concrete. A piece of concrete that he was expected to break into two parts as a demonstration of his skill.
Thousands of thoughts raced through his head. It was beyond tempting to give in to the anxiety and run away. The nerves were on the verge of taking over. At that moment, Sensei John faced a choice: try his best, or give up. He drew a breath.
An intense, ear-piercing sound emanated from his lips. Captivated, everybody watched breathlessly as the length of his hand sliced through the brick like a knife through soft butter. BAMN! There was so much power in his hit that his left knuckle collided with the ground underneath the block. The pain hit as his knuckle cracked. But, he did it. He broke the concrete.
It was amid concrete debris and throbbing pain that Sensei John's passion for karate was born. He learned that any achievement, no matter how small or seemingly unachievable, comes at the cost of hard work, determination and evidently a little pain. Or, in this particular case, a lot of pain.
As he looked up to the man that stood beside him, he realized something else. His Sensei's sense of confidence in his abilities allowed him to recognize his own potential. This man saw something in a young Sensei John before anyone else did, and that support shaped him into the person he is today.
To Sensei John, Karate is so much more than an after school activity. It is a means to foster a sense of self from a young age. The dojo is a place to fail and a place to learn how to get back up. Karate is a tool to defend yourself, carried with you throughout life. Class is a place to push your limits and learn to be confident in yourself and your abilities no matter what the future brings. Karate prepares you for life. And that's precisely what it did in the story of the timid 12-year-old boy who overcame a brick of concrete. Karate has been an invaluable, integral part of Sensei John's life and fortunately for all of the parents out there, the practice has evolved a lot over the years. He can instill that same sense of confidence he got from karate in your kids without breaking any bones.