Sunday, August 29, 2022, was the day I finally earned my promotion to Black Belt. Who knew 11 years ago when I first walked into a Krav Maga gym, I could never have imagined becoming a Black Belt, let alone an Instructor Black Belt. The journey was long, with many ups and downs including a rare disease which nearly killed me, a knee injury on my first attempt at earning my promotion, with all that being said I think those challenges only makes this moment even sweeter.
Thursday, August 25, through Saturday August 28, 2022 were such amazing days of training, drilling, teaching, working through the rough spots, making corrections to be fully prepared for the test were amazing. On Sunday, Test Day, absolutely nothing changed except everyone kicked up the effort and energy and pushed through that test. Char, John & Jesse, it was an honor to train and test with you all. Charmaine you were an absolute beast all week long and a simply fantastic partner. You were constantly providing feedback and support. We worked great together. You always have a special place in my memories for that week. Thank you for being so amazing.
Thank you to Pete Hardy for all the knowledge, passion, critiques, suggestions, tips and your commitment to Krav Maga, as well as opening up your gym to allow us to train & test in such an amazing atmosphere. To Keith, Marc, Armando, Sylvia and Daniel for your support as well as being fresh attackers to push us even further and harder than we imagined we could go during our test. Your community and instructors are all so very supportive and were there cheering everyone on.
A huge thank you to all my fellow instructors I have trained with over the years. Too many to name as I know I would miss listing some, but you know who you all are. I have made so many wonderful friends from all over the world who are truly more than friends they are my Krav Brothers and Sisters I consider to be family. Having the honor to meeting you all, training and testing with you all truly embodies the phrase: Iron Sharpens Iron.
My journey had a couple obstacles to overcome to get to this point. The first was back in 2018 when I was diagnosed to Aplastic Anemia, my body stopped producing blood cells, to the point I was immediately hospitalized getting transfusion after transfusion for 4 days, sent home for 3 weeks while continuing getting more transfusions until I was readmitted and finally treated for it. Long story short I was not allowed to be around people let alone teach or train Krav Maga for 3 months, and even then I was only allowed to teach for the next 6-9 months, then I could begin light training with no hard contact. The second obstacle was last year when I was about 1 hour into the Black Belt test when I was accidently kicked in the knee, hyper extending it and dislocating the knee cap. That ended my test last year. But what it did for me was allow me to watch the rest of you warriors continue your test, complete and all be awarded your Black Belts. Don, Elana, Mike, Marc, David, Pete, and Sylvia, it was so inspiring watching you all battle and fight till the end of the test. I was not able to finish the test with you all last year, but you were all with me this year as I strived to join your ranks.
But as Kelly mentioned to me this week that perhaps the experience helped me get to this point. After rehabbing my knee, I came back to this year’s test with more passion, fire and drive then before and came into this test with more focus and confidence than I have had in many years. Before last year’s test, I had thought it may be my last test I push through, after this years test I am feeling like I can push further and harder and I am excited for the opportunity to prepare for and earn that invite for another test.
For all the students I have taught and will continue teach thank you for allowing me the honor and privilege to share my Krav Maga knowledge and passion with you. It has truly become a way of life and passion for me to the point I own a gym know and hoping sometime in the next few years it will be my sole job so I can dedicate even more time to helping people be safer. I will do everything in my power to provide you with the best and most thorough training as possible.
To the many friends who have been there to support me in numerous different ways in this last year plus more to get me where I am at. Some of you worked out with me, gave me rehab workouts for my knee, sparred with me, laughed with me, punched me in the face, attacked me, given a word or two of encouragement, asked me how I am doing, and what you could do to help. You are all amazing and I am grateful for having you in my life and helping me through this wonderful crazy journey.
Mike Berean, thank you for your teaching, guidance and mentoring from the beginning of my Krav journey all the way through Expert 2. With out you none of this would have happened for me.
Ellie & Emily, you both have supported me from day one of planning the opening Krav Maga Wolfpack and been there the whole way for me in preparing for my test. I couldn’t have done it without you both. Thank you so very much for everything you do for me and for our members. We are all very lucky to have you as instructors at the Pack.
Don, my brother from another mother. We started training together back in 2019 and I couldn’t thank you enough for all the hours and hours of your time that you have offered me in training together preparing and starting last years test as partners. I am sorry I wasn’t able to finish with you, but shit happens. Yet for the last 12 months you were always there with words of encouragement and pushing me helping with my training and building my endurance and getting me stronger and better for this years test. There are not enough words to express how thankful I am for you. On top of that you invited me to train with your members in preparation as well as setup specific training just for me with your amazing instructors: Maria, Troy, Rachel and Emily. It is such an honor to have such an amazing group of instructors so close that our gyms can be there for each other and even have some fun with a paintball outing together. I love how well our communities mesh together. Thank you for everything.
For all of the KMW instructors I have had the honor of learning from during my Journey from Phase A through Expert 3/4: A.J., John Ramon, Michael Margolin, Wayne, John Merkle, David, and Christian, thank you for EVERYTHING you have done to help me reach this point. I have learned and improved every single time I have been able to train under you. Your knowledge and experience is unmatched and I cannot thank you enough.
Kelly, you have been there each and every Phase and Expert series I have done. You are always so passionate and driven to make all of us the best possible instructors that we can be. You have an amazing way of pushing us to reach an understanding of every single technique. Sometimes it is a look, a tone in your voice, yelling at us when needed, a nudge, a push, yes even a kick or shove in the face but it is always exactly what we need. The pinnacle of that came Sunday on test day when I was about to go into my sparring and you came to me and looked into my eyes and said, “You’ve got this.” That gave me more energy and drive to finish that test working as hard as when I started that test. And then there is the mom side of you nurturing us caring for us as people, not just instructors that touches the heart. You have become a part of my life that I would not change anything for. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
Darren, without you Krav Maga Worldwide wouldn’t be a thing. Thank you for your life long journey of bringing Krav to the US and allowing all of us to continue to spread Imi’s teaching and legacy. I have had the honor of twice training under you and both were amazing opportunities. Your Krav Maga Journey has now touched thousands and thousands if not millions of lives over the years, and it is a complete honor to be a part of the organization you have built.
Zechariah and Rebekah, my amazing, wonderful kids. I know over the past 11 years since I started training and teaching there were many evenings I wasn’t there and you never complained and you only supported me, encouraged me. I am so very proud of the adults you have become, and I am so very happy you were able to be there last week and support me in person for my test. Your being there meant the world to me hearing your voices while I was getting exhausted helped propel me through the test. I love you both more than words can say.
Maria, all of this couldn’t and wouldn’t be possible without you always supporting me. From day one of training beside you, to the day I came to you and spoke of the desire to try and be and instructor and continued through the idea of yes we can open our own gym, you have been there every step of the way. Supporting me, telling me to keep going, listening to me whine and complain about injuries or being sore, being someone I bounce off ideas with for the gym. Then you were there this past weekend cheering me on, supporting me, during the test and the grand finale you were the one who put the black belt on me, the only person who should have. Thank you for everything, all the little things you do for me and all of the huge things, everything in between. Thank you for your love and for supporting me every step of the way on this journey of mine. I love you and can’t imagine having done it without you there the whole time.