• Zombie Kids Night Out
• Tournament Kudos!
• Mas Skylar on Leadership
• Important policy change!
October 28th, Friday, 6:30-10pm
A creative workout, movie, creepy snack, & fun!
Sign-up online at the Naga store or email to reserve – this event always fills up!
$30 per child/siblings $50.
Mas Skylar’s Black Belt Essay
When people find out I practice martial arts, their reaction is always “Can you punch through a wall?” or “Hit me, let’s see what you got!”
I answer honestly (without demonstrating), but inside I hear a slogan from my training that rings true: “Throughout history, those who loved to fight were destroyed, but those who did not know how to fight were also destroyed. Strength and virtue — only those together can lead others.”
When I emerged from my brown sash test, I was exhausted and euphoric, having gone through the greatest physical ordeal of my life. I assumed my training for black belt would continue to focus on forms and self-defense techniques. In part, I was correct — there were new things to learn and old ones improve upon — but much of my time at the Studio stopped revolving around me. The color of my rank – brown – was a representation of the roots of Poekoelan, a commitment to fully understanding the art and teaching students who are following in my footsteps.
So I began to assume a greater leadership role in the Studio. It wasn’t always smooth; I often received “gentle” guidance on becoming a better teacher. While frustrating at times, assuming more responsibility was the way for me to forget my ego and devote myself to the Poekoelan community. It was the essence of “gotong royong”: by giving back to others, I was rewarded with self-confidence, communication skills, and leadership experience.
With the experience of four years as a brown sash, I entered my black belt test with a confident (slightly nervous) mindset. As with all other enormous tasks, I cleared my mind and focused on the present. I let go of all my stress, let go of the challenges before me, and breathed. Once I bowed in, I was locked in, and didn’t let go until 48 grueling hours later.
I now possess an unassuming piece of black cloth with white electrical tape around the ends. The actual belt cost less than $5 dollars, but it represents so much: my ability to break bricks, run ten miles, and exhibit stamina rivaling the best triathletes. However, that’s not why I tested. I did not put myself through the most physically demanding weekend of my life so I can brag. I did it to become an official figure of leadership in the Studio community.
In many martial arts, black belt is more or less the end of training. In Poekoelan it is a new beginning. I have proved my ability to perform scores of techniques, but now that I have to teach these standards, I am learning them again. While teaching, I am forced to clarify the steps in my brain. Every time I teach, I re-learn and the experience is immensely gratifying.
Now when I line up with the other black belts, I look across the room at the students before me, and remember how far I have come. Rather than feeling boastful of my accomplishment, however, I am humbled. I looking back, I see what I must do to go forward, as a role model and mentor for those aspiring to do what I have done.
Mas Skylar, Mas Ryan, Mas Jake and Mas Ben recently passed their black belt tests with flying colors! Mas Jake, the youngest at 12, has been training since he was four years old. The others on average have put in over ten years of training. It was huge accomplishment and each is an exciting addition to our wonderful black-belt cohort! Congrads to all!
Free Test Prep Class with Mas Rob: October 16th, 4-5!
Color sash test November 5th, 9am!
We rocked the City of Berkeley Tournament with spirit and HEART! Congrads to all! Missing from these photos of our tournament team: Mas Jake, Mas Emiko, Mas Dogan, and Mas Theo – amazing job by EVERYONE! Next one in March!
Important Policy Changes: In January, we’ll celebrate 15 years at this location – and the signing of a new 10-year lease! However, as imagined, the increase in our rent for this agreement was substantial. As a result, after many many years, we are raising dues as of January 2017 when child and adult tuition will increase by $6 per month. The Jungle Gym rate will change from $88/mo. to $99/mo. If this is a hardship for you or you family please let us know. We are excited to be ensuring the next chapter of Naga and thankful for your support!