Black Belt Essay by Charles Holmes | NEXTStep Martial Arts
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NEXTStep has been an incredible blessing. We have been going to TWD for my daughter Elly for a while and she has flourished and has an increase in confidence and discipline. I have recently joined the kickboxing classes and I am so excited to be part of the family in a direct way myself. I am impressed with all the staff which is like a second family but I am equally impressed with the accountability and life lessons learned. I had a misconception of what kickboxing would and entail and I am very happy to have tried it and found out how fun, exciting and due-able it is for someone with back issues and 50! I am looking forward to achieving a healthy lifestyle with my Next Step family. I honestly, can't say enough about the quality, dedication and support of Master Jay and everyone involved in NEXTStep!

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My daughter has been going to NEXT Step Martial Arts for almost a year now. When we first started I wasn’t sure teaching her to kick would be worth the time and money involved. I can easily and gladly say that I was wrong. They teach so much more here, they learn respect, discipline and my daughter has gain so much confidence since starting at NEXT Step Martial Arts. Taekwondo has also helped allot with her school work, memory and focus has improved so much over the past year. I believe it’s not just the taekwondo classes that’s teaching her this it’s the staff, probably better to say the family. Every employee knows everyone’s name and are genially happy to see you. They make everyone feel welcome and have become a huge part in my daughter’s life.

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I wish there were more stars. there just aren't enough stars to review the quality of people, instruction, students and classes at Next Step Martial Arts. I began my journey about 2 1/2 years ago when I came into the studio, sat on the mat with Master Jay and discussed the reasons I wanted to take taekwondo . I have met and surpassed every single one of them! I'm probably one of the oldest if not the oldest students there , but I can tell you I feel better now that I have felt in my 20s 30s 40s 50s and on. It's been a rigorous journey for me but I was willing to do the work. Master Jay and all the instructors are just an incredible group of individuals . And I feel my success has really been , as the name Next Step Martial Arts implies, one step at a time . All the classes are different, and I learn something from each one of them . I have never looked back, have no regrets, and I'm sure I never well !

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My daughter, Kenzie, has just signed up for camp this year. She is five years old. From the moment you walk in the door you are met with smiling, friendly, and respectful staff. I am proud to say that my "shy in front of others" child is blossoming in this well rounded environment. She asks to go back day after day. I have also seen her manners and respect towards others improve too. Thank you for helping her become more well rounded.

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Perseverance, dedication, and respect are all words that characterize Next Step! Not only does the staff at Next Step possess these qualities, they instill them in their students through engaging activities and self-defense techniques. Master Jay has devoted his life to his passion of teaching Tae Kwon Do! His perseverance to follow his dream and his dedication to his students are beyond what you will find anywhere else! My daughter has finally become old enough to attend summer camp, and within the first week, she was coming home and explaining to her father and me about a concept of respect that she was taught! She thoroughly enjoys her time at Nextstep, and I am pleased because she is learning about qualities that we just don't see in everyday society anymore! I know that we will continue to see her skills transform and her respect towards others increase! These are life skills that all kids should be taught! Thank you, Master Jay and staff!

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I don't know where to begin to say how much I love this place. I started out just coming to taekwondo classes for excercise on my weight loss journey (95 pounds now). I think I was at a 45 loss when I started! Anyhow it then became something else for me, more than just excercise. My husband says at the age of 50 I'm like a caterpillar blooming. And everyone I meet taking class there is pretty darn awesome and the staff is top notch! I don't think I can do without Taekwondo in my life now. I would recommend this to all ages.

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Black Belt Essay by Charles Holmes

Black Belt Essay by Charles Holmes

We are faced with many challenges throughout our lives. Some are easier than others, while some seem to be almost impossible. I started off in life with a disadvantage. I was born with the plasia gene, also known as the short gene. So, as my friends were growing, I was taking a little longer. I had to find ways to adapt and overcome everyday obstacles that were easier to most kids my age. My parents always have encouraged me to never give up and do what made me happy, so that’s what I’ve always done. I’ve always been strong willed and never let anything get in my way. I played basketball and ran hurdles in school. Not your typical short man sports. I performed in band, chorus, and show choir. I also was a dancer and competed in local and national competitions, winning several awards throughout my dancing career. I also competed in country western couple dancing as well. Currently I teach dance and am also an Early Learning Education Teacher. I enjoy working with children and helping them further educate their minds. God gives us all gifts and when you finally realize what that gift is, you put it to use. I am doing what I love and am most passionate about. Just remember, when you focus and put your mind to it, anything is possible.
I was first introduced to martial arts about sixteen years ago. I was living in Hanover, PA with a wife and baby boy, Mason. I wanted to do something that allowed me to be active, as well as learn how to protect my family. I started training at So’s Tae Kwon Do in Hanover, where I met a young Master Jay. I trained for a little over a year and was able to compete in a couple of tournaments. I enjoyed the training, tournaments, and the friendships that I was building. But unfortunately life wasn’t so friendly. Being a fairly new father and husband, times became financially difficult and I had to put my training on hold. By this point, I had only achieved yellow senior. This was far from my goal of becoming a black belt, but family responsibilities took precedence.
Time went on and many life changing events had occurred. I had another son, Gavin and a few years later I would be divorced. I moved back to Fairfield and continued living life and raising my boys. During this time, I developed some of life’s wonderful health challenges. I developed diabetes, high blood pressure, and Crohn’s. I was really struggling with getting control of my health. I needed a change and I needed it soon. One day I had noticed a martial arts studio was opening up right down the street. I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to start back up with my training. And I felt it was an opportunity for something my boys and I could do together, as well as get myself on a healthier path. I went in to check it out and much to my surprise, I saw Master Jay. It was an enlightening reunion. I took from Master Jay’s grandfather, Grand Master So, and now I get to learn from him. I knew that my boys and I would be in great hands. So, I signed us up.
The boys and I started our journey together. I’ve always instilled into my boys, the same morals and ethics my parents taught me. Never give up and do what makes you happy. Time went on and we trained together, moving through the ranks and enjoying our time doing what we loved. Gavin came to me one day and said, “Dad, I’d like to live with mom.” In the back of my mind, I knew this day would come. We talked about it and I agreed to let him go. I had to let my baby boy spread his wings. This took an emotional toll on me, as well as affected my health. But being the strong willed person I am, I bounced back and kept moving forward. Mason and I kept training. He was a red belt and I was a red senior. He came to me and asked me if he could stop training. He had lost interest. It disappointed me a little bit, because I felt this was our thing to do together. I realized that he’s just a 16 year old boy, trying to find his place in life. But for me, I wanted my black belt. I kept on training and Master Jay came to me and asked me if I was ready to schedule my test. I was excited, nervous, and proud all at the same time. So, we scheduled part #1 back in October. I passed all the cardio tests but one, the dreadful mile. I tried probably about five or six times until I had a tap dancing injury. I rolled my ankle and it pushed me back with my testing and training. Once it healed, I continued to train and tried to meet my mile time. As the saying goes, “To fail is to succeed.” Another quote I’ve come to understand. I ran the mile multiple more times, not meeting my goal. In my head, all that mattered was to beat my last time, bettering myself that the time before. I finally achieved my mile time after several months of trying. I persevered and overcame!
Getting my black belt is more than just receiving a belt. To me, it symbolizes strength, hope, love, and honor. The training has given me strength to push through the tough times in my life. Mr. Jay, the staff, and my fellow classmates have given me hope through encouragement and have been inspirations to me throughout this journey. The love I have for my boys has given me the drive to keep fighting and never give up. I want to always be a positive role model to them both. And I couldn’t do this without the good Lord above. He gets all the honor and praise for seeing me through every day of my life.
Psalm 28: 7-8
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.