How Karate Impacted My LifeIt all began in elementary school. I was in sixth grade and I remember seeing the Middle Burg Martial Arts van pull up in the parking lot. I was jumping up and down with excitement. When I found out they were having classes I ran home to my mom and practically begged her to let me sign up for karate. Ever since that day, I changed. Karate has impacted my life dramatically. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for karate. Karate has made me into the person I am today. Since day one I was always shy and stayed in the back of the class not talking at all. But now, I can lead a class and answer most of the questions in school and I walk with more confidence.Joining Middle Burg Martial Arts was one of the greatest decisions of my life. It has helped me with daily life situations, bullies, grades, and even improving my diet. MMA has treated me like family since the day I joined. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. I won’t lie, I was scared walking in through those doors was kind of scary. But now the studio has become like a second home to me. Whenever I get into an argument with my mom or brother I go to the studio and it makes me feel so much better. When I have a bad day at school or I’m just really tired or agitated, my karate family is always there.It wasn’t always like that though. My first day at the studio I was really shy and stayed in the back. Until Mrs. Gwen went out of her way to help me memorize my material and pass my white belt test. She took me under her wing and introduced me to Mr. Mathew, Logan, Anthony, Beth, and my now best friend Jenna. Gwen helped me remember my hands and kicks for my test by taking me to the side, running through them a few times then wrote it down for me. Ever since then I always wrote down my hands, kicks, and even forms. I passed my first test because Gwen took the time out of her day to help me one on one. I have kept those notes after she left for college. After she left for college on scholarship, I made a promise to her. I told her “When you come back, I’m going to be a confident, proud, and helpful black belt like you”. Since that day, I’ve been training my hardest to pass each and every test so I could make it to black belt before she got back. I won’t lie, there were times when I wanted to quit and give up. But when I started my freshman year at Clay high, there were people who would try and bully me because I was smaller than everyone else. Luckily, I knew verbal judo and got away and those bullies left me alone after that. Others weren’t so lucky. There was this kid I didn’t know who got peer pressured to do drugs. Then he got hooked and one day, he went to the park across from my neighborhood and over dosed on K2 and passed away in seconds. The next day they made an announcement about it and the school was in shock. That made me think what if I never went to karate and never learned how to deal with bullies and what if I was in that situation or what if it was me that could’ve happened to. Karate has also improved my social skills too. As I got higher up in the grades I was becoming more and more confident with myself. Especially when I got to high school. My first year was definitely not the easiest with the bullies, and focusing on my grades and studying for my next karate test. But karate taught me to persevere through it and I made it through my first year. With a lot of help from Mr. Mathew being at the school no one messed with me. Now he graduated it’s been a bit harder. I have to deal with drama almost every day now. Girls keep calling me the “N” word, and saying I have implants, and all of that drama. But karate taught me word blocks to use to defuse them and move on from the topic. Getting through that was not the easiest. It still goes on but Master Lappin has also taught me funny word blocks to say in my head to ignore them. As it continued I let the principle know what was happening but I was in the wrong for using a funny word block about myself and walking away to get away. My dad knows the system isn’t always fair because I’m mixed. If I wasn’t in karate and learned word blocks and the 14 attitude requirements instead of fighting, I might’ve gotten into a lot of trouble. Tang Soo Do has given me so much more confidence and real life skills since I started. I’ve also made many true friends at karate. From my studio and other studios. At black belt camp I made friends from three other studios. Caleb, Ross, Devon, and Grant are some of closest friends now because of karate. They all go to the studio in Orlando at Central Coast Tang Soo Do. I met them during the talent show during the 2016 Black Belt camp. They made waking up at 5 am fun! I got to visit them for my birthday in Orlando. I also met Miranda from Sun Coast and she and Devon both went to Universal Studios with me. Most of those rides would’ve scared me to death alone but I’ve learned to overcome and conquer my fears. Even though the rides scared me horribly, I still went on them for them. Friends come and go. But karate family stays.During 6th grade I was a “A” “B” and sometimes “C” student. After I started karate my grades started to improve. I started getting high “A’s” and “B’s”. Karate helped me persevere and wanted to get into a good college. My GPA now is a 3.4. When I didn’t want to do my homework or too tired to go to school I told myself to persevere because school isn’t forever. It’s better to show my teachers that I can come to school and do my work and be reliable than to “skip” school.Karate has also improved my diet. Before karate I ate whatever, whenever then went to watch tv. Now that I’m getting closer to black belt I have been eating more fruits and drinking a lot more water. As well as drinking water and eating fruits I have been working out more and getting my cardio has gone up expeditionary since I got to blue belt. Anthony’s Saturday works out kill me every time but its helped bring my cardio up so much! When I got to blue belt I was underweight at 98 pounds. My goal was to gain 17 pounds and get to 115 before my test. Now I’m 2 pounds away! In high school I’ve always been small and hated it. Since I’m gaining weight in muscle I’m getting better at holding my moves and then to keep going.Without karate, I wouldn’t be were I am today. I have gained so much confidence in myself, I’m stronger mentally and physically. I know how to protect myself, how to walk with confidence, how to be strong. Karate has impacted my life so much since I started. I have grown into a better, braver, stronger person because of Tang Soo Do.