I Tried Martial Arts And Achieved A Life Goal

I Tried Martial Arts And Achieved A Life Goal

Without a struggle, there can be no progress.

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It all started with kicking drills against red and black, round shaped kicking pads. I then moved on to sparring where I got punched in the neck. I couldn't breathe. I kept going and this ended up being one of the best days of my life. This was all a part of my black belt test at the beginning of my Sophomore year. Testing for my black belt has been a dream of mine and I'm proud that I finally got here.

It was the beginning of the school year and I was in eighth grade. My mom saw an ad from Championship Martial Arts. She asked, "hey, would you want to try this?" I ended up saying yes without truly knowing what I was getting myself into. I tried a class and it seemed like fun, so I continued to go to classes. It became a part of my weekly routine. It was a good stress reliever, so I enjoyed that it acted as a study break.

I didn't realize how long I had been going to classes because all of a sudden, my instructors came up and said, "Your black belt test is in a year from now. It's time to start reviewing and really preparing." I was nervous and excited at the same time. My goal would finally come true and I'm close to achieving it. I was very motivated to keep going and to try my best.

There was a lot of preparation to do for this test. It took a lot of effort and determination. I started going to more classes and practicing at home. To prepare, there were multiple parts to complete and turn in at least 2 weeks before the test. There was a fitness portion where I had to do 5,000 pushups, sit-ups, burpees, and squats. It was a lot, but it forced me to space it out and to be physically prepared. I actually procrastinated a bit and I ended up doing 100 burpees every day for a week. I definitely do not recommend. I needed letters of recommendation from a teacher and a school counselor, and I also wrote an essay explaining what a black belt means to me and why it is important.

It finally came the day of the test. It lasted 6 hours and it took a lot of focus and effort. The most important part of it was surviving the test and getting through it. It was difficult, but I had people alongside me, and we were all cheering each other on. In the end, I found out that I passed and I was so happy that all of this hard work paid off. I also had a marching band competition the next day, so that was a fun weekend.

Even though I knew most of these things going into it, this experience taught me how important they are. One that stands out is having the confidence and believing in yourself. With most tasks and goals, a majority part is mentally knowing that you can do it. It might be harder at the moment, thinking that it's impossible, but I promise it will all be worth it in the end.

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try out or audition to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

At a basketball tryout, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential castmember will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little payoff for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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Writer's Block: A Road Block We've All Hit

In the corner, the deer head is mocking you.

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It's two hours before your deadline and everything you start to type sounds terrible. You get five words into a sentence and you immediately hit the backspace button or throw your notebook across the room.

You think you have something solid and then you read it out loud and it's worse than you originally thought possible. Nothing sounds right to you and the clock is ticking. Minutes pass, but you can't seem to find anything that works.


You look all around the room for inspiration. In the corner, the deer head is mocking you and in the other corner, the hole in the ceiling is just reminding you of how empty your brain feels at the moment. Nothing is coming to you and it's no longer silent because your brother is upstairs singing in the shower and your sister is listening to music as she falls asleep.

Another half-hour has passed and you're drenched in sweat. Your pen is slipping out of your hand and you are stressing. Your fingers are sliding across the keys and not in the cool confident way. Your eyes are burning from the sweat droplets on the corners of your eyes.

It's writer's block and we've all been there.

In fact, right before I began this, I was experiencing it myself. I tried moving to different rooms in the house, asking three different people for ideas and listening/watching multiple platforms: acoustic music, sports, Amazon Prime TV, etc. Nothing was working and I was sure that I was going to miss my deadline and have nothing to turn in.

I honestly thought I was going to end up in a ball of tears.


However, I turned my problem into my solution and wrote down everything I was feeling.

Now, this may not always work, especially if you're writing something for school on the War of 1812 or Abraham Lincoln. One thing that will work is taking a deep breath. Write whatever comes to your mind and don't delete it, even if you think it's absolutely terrible. Some of my best writing has come from what I thought was terrible.

But most importantly, remember: Writer's block is real, but it's also overcomeable and you've probably dealt with it more than you realize.

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