Last Saturday, March 28, saw three young men complete an exhaustive examination of their knowledge of traditional karate. Timothy Cunningham, 16, of New London, Zachary Belisle, 12, of Sunapee, and Evan Miller, 12, of Bradford were awarded Black Belt ranking on Saturday, April 4th.
Tim Cunningham has trained in karate at Rising Sun since he started in late 2004. In 2009, he earned his Junior Black Belt. (International standards prohibit anyone below the age of sixteen from holding the full Black Belt certification.) At this ceremony, Tim transitioned from 4th Degree Junior Black Belt to 3rd Degree Adult Black Belt, one of only a handful of students to reach this level. He was also awarded the title of Shidoin (Apprentice Instructor), in recognition of his work as a teaching assistant. When asked what earning his Black Belt meant to him, Tim responded, “Black Belt, to me, is a symbol of growth in a positive manner. Through my eleven years of training, I have been taught to use karate not only as a method of self-defense, but as a tool to enhance one’s character. Self-control, mental discipline, respect – all things that were previously unattainable to me – are now embedded in my lifestyle. Where once I had problems with anger and motivation, I now find patience and positive spirit – taught through physical conditioning and learned through mental honing.”
Zach Belisle and Evan Miller were promoted to the level of 1st Degree Junior Black Belt. Between them, they have almost a decade of experience in karate. As Zach put it, “A Black Belt is more than just a belt on you; it shows how much hard work you have put into karate and that you are disciplined.” But, while earning a Black Belt means attaining a long-term goal, neither of them see this as the end of their study. “To me,” explains Evan, “being a Black Belt is a symbol of how far I have come and how far I will go.” Both young men are regular fixtures at the school, and often assist in teaching the lower belts.
Also recognized at the ceremony were Griffin LaBrie and Susannah Colby, who were awarded the level of Apprentice Instructor, and John Cunningham who was promoted from Shidoin to Sempai (Assistant Instructor).