About a year ago, there was a debate in American politics about what it meant to “build that,” i.e. whether someone single-handedly is to be congratulated for what they do with their life.  Without getting into the political side of that debate, the answer in a general sense is no.  Everyone has people who contributed in what they do.

When I hit the “Publish” button on this entry, it will be the last thing I do before going to take my black belt test.  It felt fitting, therefore, to post this as my first post to this journal.  Regardless of the outcome of the test, I cannot deny that I have achieved quite a bit on this journey over the past few years.  I am stronger, healthier, happier, and more evolved than I was when I started this journey.  I did not achieve those things on my own.  Many people helped me become this better person.  It is because of them that I am doing these things, and they deserve to be thanked:

My good friend Carr, who introduced me to martial arts and encouraged me to try a program.  I often joke that she saved my life, but I never would have done these things and gotten healthy had it not been for her nudge.

My first doejahng friends, Crystal and Cherie.  On my second class, I couldn’t even get through the warm-up without becoming horribly winded, and felt like I’d never succeed in this sport.  Cherie sat with me and told me it was okay, that everyone starts there.  I’ve known she was awesome ever since.  Crystal came up and immediately befriended me at my first doejahng social event.  I was so shy and so intimidated, but she quickly pulled me around, introduced me to people, and made me feel like maybe I did belong there.

Master Shim, who worked with me and built me a running program, never looking for payment or anything in return.  The program has been central to me getting here.

Master Kim, who taught me how to use the weight room and always found a way to encourage me when I was at my lowest.  I don’t know how he knew, but somehow he always did.

Instructor Kyle, who has been remarkably patient in teaching me forms, while still pushing me to be better.  I appreciate the push-ups and the times I’ve been called out for doing it wrong, because it’s then that I’ve been able to start fixing it to do it right.

My gymnastics coach, Christina, who was always setting the bar high.  That she didn’t seem to have any doubts I could do it made me work through the fear and believe I could do it, too.  Also, new gymnastics coach Andrea, who is picking up where Christina left off and trying to craft a program for me to couple with my martial arts.

All my martial arts and gymnastics friends who have been so supportive throughout my training.

Master David, I don’t even know where to start.  For every time you’ve encouraged me, and picked me up off the floor when I was crying.  For all the times you stayed late to help me get over whatever it was I was afraid of (breaking a board, doing a form in front of people, how to get out of a headlock).  There were a number of times when I asked myself why I was even bothering to try because I’d never get this sport, and you encouraged me and showed me that I could.

Grandmaster Rondy, for seeing things in me that I couldn’t see in myself and then finding ways to help me see them.

Thank you.  Thank you for believing in me, for helping me, for training me, for supporting me.