Recently, I was promoted to Junior Instructor at my martial arts academy. Below is the speech I gave.
If you had asked me six years ago about martial arts, it wasn’t something I could have ever imagined myself doing. I’m pretty sure the only thing I knew about martial arts at that time was what I had seen on the “Karate Kid.” My mom was the one who dragged me to that first class, insisting that I try it, and I might even like it. I was too afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone; I could barely speak. But Sifu made me feel so welcome, with their sense of humor, and how I was never singled out in class as the “new kid.” As soon as my class was over, I ran over to my mom and said: “Mom can I join? Can I? When’s my next class?!” From there, I got my first stripe: my black stripe. I was so proud of my accomplishment that I took my belt into school the next day to show my friends and teachers. Following that was my first section. Then joining the demo team and CIT program. Finally, I earned my black belt around the time I was twelve, and was soon after promoted to assistant instructor. I’m sure I’ve given my classmates a full show-and-tell over the years of all my belts and significant awards.
Martial arts gave me the courage to make new friends when I moved to a different town. I joined the cross country team, photo club, high school band, and became an assistant to my director in the jazz band: all in this year. Looking back on me at nine years old, prior to martial arts, I couldn’t be in front of a group performing a movement, playing my instrument, or singing, like I’m able to now. I wouldn’t be here in front of you all today, I was so self conscious.
I remember when my mom signed me up, she wanted me to find self-confidence within myself. But it’s so much more than that. It’s learning to be proud of yourself, but humble at the same time. It’s taking responsibility for your actions, and being accountable. But it’s also learning the things that can’t be taught: courage, inspiration, and most of all, respect. Respect others, but also respect yourself. That’s why I’m incredibly excited to have the opportunity to become a Junior Instructor here, since martial arts is my passion. And I know that it’s time. Time to be queen of my destiny. And I’m ready: ready to celebrate and cherish the moments. To go after what I want, and to pursue happy endings without any guarantees, but making the most of the journey. I’m ready to leave behind the things that are wrong for me, and ready to face all of life’s unexpected twists. I’m ready to turn the page in my martial arts career. So at 15 years old I can say, “Junior Instructor, here I come.”