Ramstein students earn black belts

For three Ramstein High School students, Dec. 3 is a day they will always remember. After years of martial arts instruction and tournaments, Collin Lyon, Patrick Young and Christian Britton completed the grueling and dreaded test for their long awaited black belt.

These three, along with eight local national and American students ranging from 16 to 42 years old, spent nearly seven hours at the dojo going through hundreds of techniques, forms, self defense, sparring and showing an in-depth understanding of curriculum and martial arts concepts, along with a written examination. When the testing was over, there were nine new black belts and two second degree black belts still standing.

Loveless Academy of Okinawa Go Ju Ryu in Einsiedlerhof accomplishes black belt testing just once a year. Under Okinawa Go Ju Ryu rules, a black belt is not awarded to students below age 16 because in the traditional martial arts a certain amount of maturity must be attained to wear the black belt. Since testing is only done annually, students can test if the test date is within six months of their birthday but must still wait until they turn 16 to be awarded the rank under Okinawa rules.

“The students definitely showed their ability to persevere,” said Michael Loveless, sensei and head instructor of the Academy. “We drilled them for 6.5 hours and pushed them to their limits.

They all learned a lot about their ability to carry on and never quit. The black belt test is unlike any test they will ever take. They should all be quite proud of their accomplishments.”

Collin has been practicing martial arts since he was 8 years old and has several world championship titles to his name having been selected to both the U.S. and German national teams. He is now an assistant instructor at the dojo.

“I’ve waited for this day for a long time. All the hours of training and commitment to one sport has taught me dedication. I know Master Loveless will expect much more of me now and the younger kids look up to me to be a good example in the dojo,” Collin said.

Patrick started karate in 2000 and has been training at Loveless Academy since 2003. He has participated in one world championship tournament. “Karate has made me a better person and taught me self-respect and respect for others,” he said. “It also showed me what commitment really is and I am thankful for karate.”

Christian has trained at Loveless for just over two years and has also participated in one world championship tournament. Christian also agrees that karate has taught him discipline, and now he knows he’s expected to be a role model for the younger students.

Being a black belt means you have learned great patience, goal setting, conflict resolution, working with others, helping juniors and many other attributes that will help you throughout your whole life, he said.

Through this experience, the martial arts techniques learned will give students the confidence to defend themselves and gain an awareness that few can actually attain any other way.

As Master Loveless always teaches, “Karate is one of the few things we train so hard at, to get so good at and hope we never have to use it.”

(Courtesy of Robert Lyon)