Martial Arts

Why I Want To Be A Black Belt

By Susan LaGrande, 1st Gup
Hudson Valley Karate, Wappinger Falls, NY


When I started taking classes in 2005, my goal was very modest. I just wanted to see if
it was as much fun as it looks. The idea that I could actually become a Black Belt myself was inconceivable, considering my age and physical condition.

Well, I found out that it is indeed as much fun as it looks. It's also difficult and challenging, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. I've faced many obstacles, including sore muscles and joints that kept me awake at night, memory lapses that made me despair of learning anything, and occasional opposition from my family. But with Sa Bom Nim's encouragement I persevered, and now I am eligible to test for Il Gup, so the goal of achieving Black Belt rank is definitely within reach.

The benefits I have gained from Tang Soo Do have exceeded my expectations in many ways. I have much more stamina, so I don't get out of breath so quickly. I have less pain in my knees because my legs are stronger. My posture is better. Medically, my blood sugar is more stable and my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are much improved. I can even jog slowly now, whereas a few years ago I could barely walk without pain.

I want to become a Black Belt for several reasons:

I consider Black Belt rank a very important milestone in my personal growth, similar to a college diploma. But I don't consider it an end point. Just as I continued my education after graduation and received an MS degree, so I expect to continue training for advanced rank as long as my body allows me to.

I want to be able to take a larger role in assisting on the mat. I think I can be of particular help to new adult students because they could relate to me well. I also think that some of the littlest kids might find it reassuring to have a grandma-figure around.

As a Black Belt, I can be a more effective role model for others who might feel that they are too old or out of shape to try Tang Soo Do, or any other form of physical activity. I already write a blog about my experiences (; maybe I could speak to senior citizen groups or something like that.

I want to continue to share my experience in karate with my grandson. Just has he has served as a role model for me in my training, I want to continue to be a role model for him. I know he is very proud of me, and I feel certain that he is more likely to continue his training beyond Cho Dan if I do too.

Although I have worked behind the scenes for a long time, I want to be eligible to officially represent my school and the association when asked to do so.

I know my family is proud of me, even though they are sometimes frustrated when I choose training over spending time with them. I hope that when I become a Black Belt they will be proud of the sacrifices they have made to allow me to come so far.



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