I can honestly say that accepting the challenge of participating in the Ultimate Black Belt Test (UBBT) is one of the most intimidating things I have ever done! At first glance, the requirements alone are enough to send a swarm of butterflies through my stomach. Then I found out who else had committed to this challenge and I quickly realized I was surrounded by some of the best martial artists around. But, then again, who else would step up to the plate when Master Tom Callos is the pitcher??
Back in November of 2017, I was happy to be invited back to celebrate the achievements of Aim High’s Black Belt testing team and was excited to also see my mentor and first master teacher, Tom Callos. I was fortunate enough to sit and chat with him, which I had not done in some time. Frankly, that intimidated me and here’s why. Though I had been consistently teaching martial arts since 1991, I had never, until recently, allowed myself to reach for something I had a deep-down desire to do: I had suppressed my dream of owning my own studio for so long that it was really eating me up. I’d been so embarrassed by this failure (as I perceived it) that I would often tell others I didn’t really want my own studio. In sitting down with Master Callos, however, I realized that I had not been a failure, and that taking the steps to make my dreams a reality would help me grow as a martial artist.
I’ve been told a few times that this year’s UBBT was created as a result of those conversations. Intimidating, yes, but overcoming challenges is where confidence is formed. I teach this in my classes, and I believe it to my core. Accepting this challenge means the world to me as it is the venue where I will stand in front of those I serve and proudly share my hopes, dreams, successes, failures, and lessons learned. This challenge is like the fire that forges steel and, at times, it is the water that tempers it.
Succeed or fail, the Ultimate Black Belt Test is changing my life before your eyes.
As a member of the Ultimate Black Belt Test 2018, I am dedicated to improving myself and the martial arts I teach by passing on the lessons I'm continuously leaning through the process. I am committed to adding to the work of my mentor and UBBT creator and coach, Tom Callos, by expanding on what martial arts can represent in our studio and in our community. If you'd like to know more about the Ultimate Black Belt test or the work of Tom Callos, please feel free to visit the sites linked above!