Eli Lifton has been practicing Seido Karate with Sensei Karin at Discovery since he was six years old. He’s currently in sixth grade and has just earned his Junior Black Belt. He graciously answered questions about his experience at the promotion on Saturday, March 30th.
When did you first become interested in Karate?
When my parents first signed me up, I came and I was kind of scared in the beginning. It took maybe one class, but when I realized you learn so much, I thought, “I have to be good at this!” and it’s kind of like the dream of a six-year-old, “I’m going to be the best!” So I guess that’s kind of what I thought and then I just got attached to it.
What is your next goal in Karate that you’d like to accomplish?
I would say my next goal is to improve and just to keep on going. I’m in sixth grade, but soon school will start to get harder and I just want to make sure that even if it’s once a week, I’ll be able to come here and practice Karate.
What was the most exciting part of the promotion?
I’d say when we did the sparring, that was the most exciting part because it’s the final part of the promotion, it’s the hardest part, but once you get over that huge obstacle, it’s almost over.
What does it feel like to have a black belt?
To have a black belt, it feels different than what I expected when I was six years old and I saw Sensei Karin with a black belt. It doesn’t feel as much like “Yay, I have a black belt!” but, “Yay, there’s so much more to learn!” especially when you reached brown belt, or even when I first reached green belt, I thought, “Now there’s nothing left to learn,” but there actually is! It feels like the beginning.
What is your advice for students who want to start practicing Karate?
My advice is just to never give up. Once you get here [to your black belt] it feels so good and you can continue!
How did Sensei Karin help you prepare for your promotion?
Sensei Karin helped me a lot because Kaicho (the Grandmaster) has many philosophies and she has taught me all of them. Even though I don’t go all the way to the dojo [the place of practice] to hear them, she teaches me them, so that really helped me.
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We also asked Sensei Karin about the promotion from her perspective. She has been a Seido Karate teacher with us for the past ten years and Eli is her second student to become a black belt.
What does it mean to you when your students become black belts?
It took Eli about five years [to become a black belt], but usually it takes them about six years. He moved up the levels faster because he would practice. I would show him a new kata (a detailed pattern of movements) and I would find him practicing the back leaning stance or practicing the hands. So to bring kids to a black belt level makes me very proud. Karate is a way of life. It is about creating strong self-confidence and self-esteem. It builds better memory and better focus in school. Because it’s disciplined, because it’s so structured, it helps [students] deal with anything that they need to in their lives.
What was the most exciting part about Eli’s promotion for you?
For me, it was seeing him face his biggest challenge and not be afraid. I felt very proud of him when he was not intimidated to spar. I try to teach the kids that, more than anything, they should always do the best they can. We have this Bushido spirit, this “not giving up” spirit [in Karate]. If they carry that into their daily lives, I did my job. That’s really what’s important to me.
What do you hope for Eli for his future in Karate?
I would like to see them, anyone who turns black belt, start becoming leaders and to continue to spread the same values that I’m instilling in them to other kids in the future. Because this is the future of Seido that we’re building here, to carry it on to their daily lives and to become leaders.
We are so proud of Eli and Sensei Karin and we are so excited to see Eli’s journey in Seido Karate continue!