Since I have had so many requests to see my Black Belt Address, I decided I would post it here.
Black Belt Address
Ms. Meghan L. Bayer
1st Degree Black Belt
December 9th, 2015
In my mind, earning the rank of 1st Degree Black Belt is the end of the “color belt training camp” and the entrance to the big leagues where I will be challenged with more advanced techniques and a higher level of fitness. Becoming a black belt is such a surreal feeling for me, because it has taken two years of training almost every night to get to this point. I have had to fight through pain, blood, sweat, tears, and injuries to reach this goal. With that being said, I would do it all over again. I’ll always find a way to do something. It may not be the traditional way, but I will make it work.
It takes a village to create a black belt. I would like to thank my parents for encouraging me to follow my dreams and never holding me back for fear of the unknown. They have paid for my tuition, testings, tournaments, and listened to me complain when I just couldn’t get a technique down the first time. I would also like to express my appreciation to my friends who have put up with my excuse of “Oh, I have taekwondo tonight. I’m sorry I can’t make it,” through the years. I am lucky to have friends that truly understand my passion for the art.
I don’t know where I would be without all my taekwondo classmates pushing me to be my very best. Whether it’s a pat on the back or a quick high-five, they know how to pick me up on the worst of days. It’s their commitment that makes me want to be a better martial artist and leader. When I was preparing for my black belt recommended, it took every student practicing their self-defense with me to make me confident for testing.
I would also like to thank Corinne Bly, a 3rd Degree Black Belt in the ATA from New Hampshire, who trains under Master Roy. We both have Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and are so very passionate about taekwondo. We are also very close in age, which makes it very easy to relate to each other. She has become a mentor to me (My ATA Sister) and in my mind, she is the true definition of what it means to be ATA Strong.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the staff at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for their exceptional care for over half my life. It is through their ability to think outside the box in terms of treatment and to persevere when their best attempts fall short. I would not be where I am today without them.
Words could never begin to express my level of respect and gratitude for my exceptional instructors for their hard work, dedication, and commitment to each and every student. Their willingness to accommodate every student is truly admirable.
My journey to black belt has been a windy one with a few detours. The most important thing I have learned is how to mentally cope with those detours and keep moving forward. Gaining that control over the mind and the body has been invaluable.
As a result of my martial arts training, I have more self-confidence. I have learned to set goals and persevere until I reach them. Most importantly, I have become a much stronger leader as a result of the skills learned in the leadership program and helping out in classes. I have never had any problems with public speaking, but since starting taekwondo, I have successfully spoken at several engagements.
I know that with this new rank comes new and greater responsibilities. With my instructor's blessing, I would like to continue working with the Karate Kids and the ATA Tigers. Ultimately, I would like to obtain my Level 1 instructor certification next year with a goal of becoming a certified instructor further along my journey. I would like to continue competing in tournaments. I have been saying it for a long time, but I really want to be a Pennsylvania Combat Weapons Sparring State Champion. I am hopeful that if I do well enough in the tournaments in 2016, that I will be able to attend the District Championships. I really want to see how I match up to other people my age and rank, so I can push myself to further improve my technique.
As Grand Master Soon Ho Lee said, “There is always more to learn."