I first heard of Kyokushin Karate in September 2009. New to the world of college, away from home and family for the first time, and having just suffered some emotional heartache over the summer, I was extremely stressed. I feared losing my parents, my friends, and my home. I was incredibly depressed and scared. In a desperate attempt to cheer me up and distract me from my fears, my mother signed me up for Kyokushin Karate when we came across Shihan (then Sensei) Ian Quitadamo and Sempai Annika Neiber at their club advertisement table in the SURC.
Despite my sad and fearful state, I was curious. The martial arts have always intrigued me: as a kid I watched Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles religiously, and I had tried learning Tai Chi and Muay Thai through videos. Despite my fascination, I had never attended an actual class in martial arts. When I first came to Shihan Ian Quitadamo’s class and began training, it was a battle to overcome both my shyness in the group and my physical limitations.
I was born fifteen weeks premature, weighing only one pound, thirteen ounces. As such I have many long-term health issues, including visual impairment, only one functioning kidney, and half the normal amount of intestines. Fortunately, Shihan Quitadamo has been more than willing to work with my difficulties. As time went on my sorrows faded, my mental wounds healed, and I began to view Kyokushin not as just a simple diversion, but as something I actually enjoyed doing. That enjoyment soon turned into love. I cannot imagine a life without Kyokushin now. I plan on training in it for the rest of my days. It has given me self-confidence I never thought I would have, poise, flexibility, and strength I never imagined I could achieve, and an inner peace I never dreamed I would know.
I will always consider myself indebted to Shihan Quitadamo and all the rest of my fellow Kyokushin students. They have all taught me, helped make sure I don’t get permanently hurt in practice, and fostered an environment in which I can grow as a student and a person. They have also shown me that I am stronger than I ever believed I could be, and I respect them all more than I can describe.
I will never stop. I will never quit. No matter how hard life’s difficulties come at me, I will never cease pushing back with the spirit Kyokushin has helped me build. I will search relentlessly for the ultimate truth, and climb the mountain to join Sosai Oyama. Osu!