How has your training made you into the person you are today?
FMAC is not just an average karate studio. Not long after joining, I realized the love and commitment that Dr. Len, Miss Brenda, and every other instructor had for every single one of their students! We were not “Customers” by any stretch….we were “Family”. When my son Kyle was 7 years old, my husband Kevin and I decided to enroll him in karate classes because we felt it would be a very positive way to channel Kyle’s exuberant energy while he gained a valuable skill. I decided that it would probably be a good idea for me to learn karate as well and to do it along side of him. And so our journey began. Not only was it a great way to spend time with my son, but I found every class I participated in was a fantastic way to reduce stress! Whenever I “worked out” I had to concentrate on the techniques and forms I was learning and I totally forgot about my extensive “to-do” list or anything else that was on my mind due to working full time and raising a family. In fact, whenever I felt “stressed out” I immediately knew I “needed” a karate class, and sure enough, after attending a class that night, I returned home totally rejuvenated! After about 6 months, my daughter Ashley started karate classes and was on her way to black belt, too. Eventually, my husband Kevin figured out that since everyone in the family was spending so much time at karate lessons (2-3 lessons per week for all of us – although some were as family classes), that if he wanted to see us he’d better join himself! So, he became the next karate student in the family and absolutely LOVED it! He was hooked just like the rest of us! The four of us continued to take karate lessons, and on April 11, 2003, I graduated with my “Black Belt” and was thrilled beyond words. I celebrated with my family that night, but my happiness was short-lived due to a sudden and unexpected tragedy. My husband Kevin died four days later on April 15th. Dr. Len and Miss Brenda honored my family in two ways then. First, they called to say that Kevin would be given his Black Belt posthumously – that took my breath away! They said he “was” a black belt…he had the character and determination to complete it – he just hadn’t had the time to do it. Secondly, Dr. Len agreed to do the eulogy for Kevin and gave a beautiful tribute to the wonderful man I loved. After Kevin’s death, the support my children and I received from the FMAC community amazed me. I will never forget their love and generosity. It gave me the strength I needed to persevere and continue with classes. It gave my daughter the strength she needed to persevere to get her black belt six months later. I earned my red coat at the same time.
I thank God so much that He put this loving group of people in my life – the wonderful people of the FAMILY Martial Arts Center.
Which Black Belt Character helped you the most through your training?
Without a doubt, “perseverance” is what I thought most about while I was working toward earning my black belt, especially during the final three days of very demanding testing and then during the graduation ceremony! However, the meaning of perseverance really hit home when my husband, Kevin died and I had to dig down deep to find the strength to persevere and continue with karate even though I was grieving and taking care of my two children and also closing Kevin’s photography business. Also, at that time my daughter, Ashley, was 6 months away from earning her black belt, and it took great courage and determination to persevere to attain her goal. I believe the strength God gave both of us to persevere has become a way of life for us. In fact, I purchased a painting by Thomas Kinkade (The Painter of Light) entitled “Perseverance” and it hangs in my living room. It’s meaning to me is indescribable.
Today whenever I face a difficult challenge, I think back about my days of working toward my black belt. Each time, I dig down deep in my soul to find the strength I need to “persevere” through whatever I am facing! If not for the Family Martial Arts Center and the Brassard family, I’m not sure I would have gained this valuable gift!