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George Saridakis

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

The journey to acquiring the black belt was long and rocky, but also filled with beautiful moments and tremendous support that encouraged me to continue towards arriving at this ‘station’ (I say ‘station’ because the journey has not ended and there are still many ‘stations’ to reach).

I started karate in 2012 and I completely owe this to my family (particularly my wife) who pushed me to do it. When I started, I thought that I would not reach very far since most of the activity that comprise karate training seemed nearly impossible to do. But it was a reality after great effort, the continuing commitment that I needed to free my mind from these obstacles and disengage any negative thoughts of not being able to do it - what one may call the ‘martial spirit’.

As I was progressing from one belt to another, I saw myself gaining confidence and realised that the impossible can become possible when spirit and effort join forces (‘Hitotsu! Doryoku No Seishin o Yashinau Koto’). When I reached the brown belt (3rd Kyu), I felt so proud, and I looked forward to advancing my training even more.

However, life does not happen smoothly all the time. I needed to leave my training due to heavy work commitments for a long while. Again, my family was the catalyst for my returning to the dojo. But returning was not easy. I needed to retake my brown belt examination several months after training. That examination did not go so well proving that ‘Karate is like hot water; it cools down if you do not keep heating it’. Hence, I needed to return to the following grading to ensure that I worked based on the fair, constructive and useful feedback I received from the examiners. With the help of my instructors, I managed to improve my karate skills and in the following examination I gained the brown belt. Two more belts before becoming a black belt, I thought, but what I soon realised is that the amount of knowledge and skills to reach the next levels was utterly enormous.

After rigorous efforts and with much dedication, I moved to the ‘brown and white’ belt (2nd Kyu) and my fitness level was its zenith. But soon after that grading I needed to interrupt my training since I was diagnosed with an important health issue that needed immediate attention. With much love from family, friends, instructors, and club fellows I was able to overcome this difficulty and return to my training gradually and build up my strength, speed, techniques and spirit. It took me a significant amount of time to become a 1st Kyu (Brown and red belt), and then start preparing myself mentally and physically for the black belt examination!

The black belt preparation was vast and demanding, but in this effort, I was not alone! My instructors as well as other black belts shared their experience, knowledge and skills generously with me. When I was invited to attend the examination, I felt nervous and anxious but deep inside me I knew I trained significantly to face the grading process. Well, partly! The grading was so challenging that the two hours and half of examination seemed endless! But this is what karate is about! Spirit, focus, effort and ethos all of which occurs to keep you going even when you are completely out of breath! With these elements on board, I managed to move from 1 st Kyu to 1 st level black belt (Shodan)! Of course, I got few bruises and scratches as souvenirs and a few days of rest to recover, but the experience of grading was amazing!

I would like to close by saying a big thank you to Renshi Kidby for introducing me to karate and for helping me to grow as a practitioner of the art. I have no words to express my gratitude and thanks to Sensei Pam McMahon and Sensei Simon McMahon for helping me with my karate development and preparing me powerfully for my black belt! They have made my journey towards my black belt enjoyable and knowledgeable, and I am an honoured to be trained by them.

Finally, I would like to thank my family, and particularly my daughter, for giving me life and energy in everything that I do!

Back to dojo now! CFTS is a great ‘family’ to belong to! Oss!


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