A crowd drew near to witness a rare ceremony recently at Dokan Karate in Huntsville, as a Black Belt was bestowed upon a young practitioner after almost nine years of study.
Carson Turney, age 13, was in the centre of the room, reciting a pledge to continue to uphold the values that his new belt represented: respect, humility, compassion and gratitude among them. He then fought hard against a grin that spread across his face as his new belt was tied around his waist.
Turney began his journey at age four and has been consistently present and focused in class, often assisting to teach other students as a Sempai ever since.
“Karate is a lot of fun,” said Turney. When asked if he had advice for anyone thinking about joining he offered, “It’s great exercise and it’s challenging. When you come to class you have to be focused and pay attention. What you get out of it is going to depend on what you put into it.”
Mike Varieur, a second-degree Black Belt and Sensei at the club, echoed the idea of effort being integral in obtaining the rank. “Achieving a black belt in martial arts requires a level of commitment that is rare in today’s society,” he said, adding, “I would equate the focus and dedication to that of a high-performance athlete. It can take over a decade to get this far, even with regular attendance.”
Varieur has supported much of Turney’s journey over the years and says, “It’s a pleasure to witness his development, not only as a student but also as an emerging adult.”
Rob Humphrey, the owner and lead Sensei of Dokan Karate, met Turney when he was four years old and has had a consistent hand in leading and coaching him on his path to Junior Black Belt. “The long journey to Shodan (black belt) illustrates a student’s developing abilities to uphold the standards that our club and the sport represent, including having a high moral code and indomitable spirit.”
Humphrey added, “Not to take anything away from it, but the presentation of a Black Belt is the recognition from peers that the first part of a student’s martial arts journey has been successful.”
When asked about that, Turney smiled and responded with, “Karate is something I plan to do for my whole life. There isn’t an end to what you can learn, and sometimes it’s frustrating but that’s part of what I like about it, too.”
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