Senpai Dylan reminds me of Tony Stark. He's a pleasant young man, kind hearted and incredibly intelligent...a big-picture thinker, but when he puts that suit on everything is amplified.
Dylan is the same way. We've known for years that he was a young man of exceptionally quality. That was before he earned his black belt at Camp Phoenix 2018. Almost immediately, like Tony Stark's transformation into Ironman, all of Senpai's admirable qualities were amplified. He is a clear example of being a black belt and not just wearing one.
For making a profound, immediate transition from the mudansha to the yudansha ranks, we award him with our Yudansha of the Year for 2018.
She doesn't know this, but I talk about Amy with my science students all the time...usually with the phrase "most of us are low-key afraid of her." Amy hits hard. Not for a woman. Not for someone just north of 29...she hits hard...period.
Amy has three sons, and all of them train with us. Her oldest son is one of our newest black belts. Amy's daughter joined just a few months ago and just last week earned her first stripe. All this to say, for years Amy has heard about the training from her kiddos and still decided to begin training last September (2018) and our dojo has been all the better for her investment.
To see someone train hard is a treat. To see someone train with a smile is awesome. To see someone training consistently is terrific. But, to have a student who trains at 100% with a constant smile? That's a blessing! That's budo karate. Amy is, without a doubt, a huge blessing in our dojo!
"And though she be but little, she is fierce." ~Shakespeare
Sydney has become a pillar in our dojo community. In so many ways, she reminds me of my teachers...full of a fierce tenacity and always wearing a smile.
Our mission is to improve. I explain to coworkers and parents that our style, and especially our dojo is geared toward making weak people strong, and strong people unstoppable. We are about striving toward perfection of character. Sydney began training with us as an exceptional young lady and to watch her grow over the past couple of years has been such a blessing. Sydney is well on her way to becoming absolutely unstoppable!
This past week we celebrated our last training sessions of 2018 by recognizing an outstanding karate student from each of our classes. Our Kids Kyokushin award winner, Timothy, is a shining example of a strong and joyful work ethic. He smiles at the mention of burpees and is always asking for ways to make drills more challenging.
Several weeks ago, on his own accord, Timothy asked to join the Teen Class. While this group is reserved for those entering 5th-11th Grade, we allowed Timothy to join even though he's only in 4th Grade! Why?! There are a few reasons, but essentially the approval was based on Sensei Bob's belief that you should never deny someone looking for a greater challenge.
Tim, thank you for being an example of a young student who is always looking to make training challenging and fun. Students like YOU make a dojo so, so strong!
I used to have very strong feelings about participation trophies and medals...and it was quite negative. Actually, I still have strong, negative feelings about participation trophies for most endeavors.
Especially after last week's Iron Shirt Tournament, I've had a chance to re-evaluate trophies and medals. With the exception of my USKA title belt and my Phoenix 50 katana...I'd be perfectly content throwing the rest of my trophies into the dumpster.
Trophies...awards...they should mean something more than you tried. Now, combat sports are different. I've said for years that the guts it takes to step on the mat...to win or lose on your own; without a team to blame or fall back on...that's worthy of honor.
I say all this because in the coming week we will be honoring students in out dojo who have truly stepped it up and shown themselves as "student of the year". Out of 100 students on our roster, 4 will be honored. Do the math. Honor is important, To give honor to those whom deserve it is a pillar of what we do here at Forge Dojo.
If we're honest with ourselves, there are some people in our circles that rise to the top. I cannot wait to honor these four students over the next week!