Prevailing can sometimes be a test of patience but always a show of perserverance.
This past weekend, my sweet wife went through an arduous test of will and came out on top. After a few years of training and a 13-hour test, she earned her black belt in American Karate Warrior-Do. The name of the style itself speaks volumes of what she had to endure before she even got to the test.
As a child, she was repeatedly molested by a relative. When she asked if she could be saved from this horror there was no one. So the torment continued for a few years. As if that wasn’t enough, when she was in her twenties, she was kidnapped at gunpoint by three “men” and assaulted. By the time we met and married, she had been well on her path to healing. Now it was time to stand up and fight back.
She’s the reason I write strong, female characters.
This and the fact that I’m familiar with another form of abuse myself, unfortunately.
When we first moved to Tennessee, we knew no one and were in massive financial dire need. The last thing I had wanted to do was to spend money on something that did not involve providing for my family. She knew that I had studied martial arts as a child and had a passing interest in resuming one day. But for me, then was not the time. While she worked at the local Y she met one of the instructors who, to this day, I credit with starting me back up again. Grandmaster Mike Hoyal stood at the doorway and gently suggested I try it out. Little did I know that my wife had already signed me up. After about a year, we signed up our daughter. And through the years, Kristen watched and cheered from the sidelines.
But that would only last a while. After my daughter and I got our black belts, Kristen joined the program. As an aside, I’ll add that she’s an educator. And a very good one at that. Anyone who has ever been an educator or married to one knows fully well that this is the most under appreciated profession in the history of mankind. Kristen works all. the. time. Sometimes 9 hour days. Sometimes 13 hour days. And you can stop right there if you’re thinking, but they get summers off! Think again. (This is where my fangs come out.) With professional development, opportunities to supplement income and prepping tasks for the closing/opening of the school year there is no such thing. So she took her time.
But she perservered.
On Saturday, September 17, 2017 I drove my beloved to the testing site where she was to begin her written test at 7am. She began her day with a light breakfast and a goodie bag that I had made for her with letters from both me and our daughter, Mackenzy. After her written test, she went into her forms, self-defense, endurance and some classified exercises (sorry, no walking on hot coals) she stood strong. As an instructor, I was on the panel. Watching her go through all of the obstacles was tough. But after 13 grueling hours, we all got to hear our Chief Instructor, Grandmaster Chapman speak the words we had waited for so long to hear.
By the power invested in me by the IKSA I now promote you to the rank of Shodan, 1st Degree Black Belt with all the rights and privileges thereto. Congratulations.
She made it.
And if she made it through all the horrific acts perpetrated against her and go on to make good choices for her life…
…you can too.
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is also a husband, father and a 4th degree Black Belt in American Karate. You can visit his website, Science Fiction for the Human Condition at Leonardoverse.com. His books are available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.