Amanda Dixon is Metamora’s third student promoted to black belt, having tested for 1st degree in 2005. In 2008, she earned her 2nd-degree black belt. Amanda was eager to assist in the grade school programs throughout her stay with us, volunteering to lead Metamora Grade School for the first several years we were there.
Amanda racked up numerous awards, including Bushi-do and Best Assistant Instructor in 2004, our first-ever Most Improved Student in 2002, the 2005 Best Black Belt Instructor as voted by the students, and more.
Here, in her own words, is Amanda Dixon.
“Who do you want to be?” is THE question that most high schoolers are presented with their freshman year. Who you spend your time with, and more importantly what you do, will shape your life.
I was presented with this question eight years ago when I first started school. It was something that I had to spend a little time thinking about. What defined me as a person? What did I want to accomplish over the course of these four years? I wanted to be a part of something, and to form a community with the people around me. I wanted to do something that would benefit my life, and teach me something. I also wanted to do something unique. I also wanted to something I could succeed at. At the point in my life I really wasn’t much of a leader so I really didn’t know where to begin my search.
Luckily for me, a friend of mine heard about the martial arts club at the high school. It sounded like a good idea, so I decided to tag along and che
ck it out. I don’t really remember a lot of specifics about my first class, but I liked it enough to keep coming back. By the end of the first month, I was hooked.
I didn’t know it at the time, but those weekly classes played a major role in shaping my future and I was accomplishing my goal; I was learning. During classes, I learned all typical movements: how to punch, how to kick, how to block, and how to defend myself. I learned how to spar, and how to use my opponent’s momentum against them. I learned the forms and how to say the words in Japanese. I learned how to do my forms against attackers, how to explain exactly what I was doing and, more importantly, why I was doing it. I learned how to explain to a six-year-old how to do the same things. I progressed through the ranks and at the start of my senior year of high school I tested for black belt.
Six hours of forms, fitness tests, verbal tests, self-defenses, and sparring matches later I passed my test. Never in my life have I been as tired as that day. For three years, I had been training for that test and now it was all worth it. The moment my sensei tied t
hat belt around my waist, he told me that was just the beginning. That day is when my new journey began. Now I had to apply my knowledge and do something with it.
That was the new question of my life. What was I going to do with all that I had learned? Well, what did I learn? I learned the aforementioned things, but what else had I gained over the past three years?
I’ve realized over the past years what exactly I gained from my years in martial arts. I gained a community. To this day, some of my karate-ka remain my closest friends. We’ve spent countless hours training together, sweating together, laughing together, and growing together. I also gained confidence in myself, and in my ability to be a leader. I spent much of my time teaching younger kids martial arts, and thus was able to grow in my abilities as a teacher. Teaching is something I fell in love with from the start, and becoming a teacher became one of my long-term goals. So with all of the knowledge that I had gained I decided to pursue this passion. This was my way to use everything I had learned, and to give it back. I taught weekly classes for a grade school during my first two years of college, and then took a break from martial arts to go earn my bachelor’s degree in education.
I am now a certified teacher for elementary education, and am applying those skills in Honduras. I had a strong desire to mission work after I graduated college and was accepted to work at a Catholic orphanage in rural Honduras. I’m the fifth- and sixth-grade teacher, as well as the new karate teacher. My karate teaching skills are a little rusty, but they are definitely resurfacing. I just started teaching martial arts classes, but the kids are excited about learning. One of the goals we have for this new program is to teach the kids discipline, and to show respect to others.
I have given them the same rules that were given to me when I began learning martial arts. They have to do their homework, they have to do well in school, and the absolutely cannot use what they learn on each other. The other goal, of course, is for them to have fun and to just be kids. Most of our kids have had hard times in the past, so it’s so great to see them just simply being kids. It’s really exciting for me to watch them get excited about who can kick the highest, or who can yell the loudest. These classes are a good place for them to get out their extra energy, and so they can be a little crazy. I hope they continue to enjoy learning, and hopefully light a fire in their hearts for the martial arts.
So, to finally put an answer to that question that I pondered over so many years ago. Who I am? I am a 23-year-old volunteer at Farm of the Child, a Catholic orphanage in Honduras. I am a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher and I teach 20
kids math, English, and science every day. I am also the new karate teacher, and am hoping to give them a small piece of what I learned and of what I will continue to learn. I want them to learn the forms, the punches, the kicks, the stances, and the techniques. However, most importantly I want them to learn the other stuff as well. I want them to learn discipline and how to work for their goals. I want them to learn to have confidence in who they are, and what they can do.
I was always told that after you receive your black belt the real journey begins. I have found a lot of truth in that statement. It’s quite amazing for me to look and see where my journey has taken me, and where it continues to take me.