By: Mike Trippett


I would like to share with you my personal journey to become a CHO DAN. First off I will start by saying that I have always been fascinated with the martial arts, I would watch movies on television and start kicking and punching my way around the living room, hardly having a clue as to what I was doing, but man was I having fun. To this day I can't watch a good martial arts movie without feeling the urge to throw a couple of kicks and punches. {My wife and children can confirm this}.

I can't help myself; I just love the martial arts. It is that same excitement as a child that has given me the drive and desire to excel in the martial arts as an adult.

I began classes at Golden Tiger Karate in January of 2003. I had some of the basic fundamentals because I had taken classes for a short period of time about 13 years before. This was it; I was on my way to the goal of getting my black belt. Little did I know how severely I had under estimated the amount of dedication, drive, and desire it would take to attempt to reach this goal {I say attempt because at the time of this writing, I have not yet earned my black belt. My test is scheduled less than a month from now}. Although I credit that childhood excitement for helping me along, I have also had to do a lot of soul searching along the way. You see, the martial arts can be very humbling at times.

The first time that I really questioned my desire to continue training was at green belt. In order to receive brown belt a student has to be able to show that they possess all the skills from white belt thru green belt. Although I was confident in my technique, I had a huge struggle trying to keep things in order with a particular belt. Months were going by and I still wasn't confident enough in my ability to keep all the belt rankings techniques in order. I was utterly frustrated and began to wonder if I had what it takes to reach my goal. It seemed that I had the physical ability to perform the many techniques, but I couldn't even remember where some of them went according to belt rank. That should be the easy part I thought to myself. Again I say that the martial arts can be very humbling. You have to look at the whole picture, just because you're good at one thing, that doesn't mean you have it all figured out. It took me seven months to get my brown belt, and so far that is the belt I cherish the most because I didn't give up on my goal. I still struggle at times keeping some techniques in order with the belt rank, but with the help of other students and instructors, I have improved a great deal and will continue to get better. I would offer the advice to newer students that they should continue practicing older techniques they learn as frequently as the new ones from higher belt ranks. While it may seem tiresome, it will pay off big time farther down the road.

The instructors and the students that make up Golden Tiger Karate are second to none in many ways. The instructors are patient, involved and genuinely concerned with the progress of their students. This quality is paramount in ensuring the success of students who may begin to question their abilities in obtaining their goal. As I said before I have been there myself. It is not unusual to find many students and instructors hanging around after class just talking about things not even associated with karate. To me that seems like a bunch of friends not just students enjoying each others company. And that's not even including the many nights that our instructors stay longer is just my personal opinion and not meant to be taken as a right or wrong answer.

 Having said that, I believe that as a Cho Dan I am able to offer my school and its students the encouragement, understanding and support they need to achieve their goal. Many times before and even in current times I find myself getting frustrated with my progress because I demand the very best from myself. Some say that I am a perfectionist, but I like to think of it as not settling for less than I know that I can give. Right or wrong, my point is that I know how it feels to be frustrated and have doubt in one's abilities. These are the times when students need the extra encouragement and understanding to push forward to their goal. When I'm in the dojo I not only train, but I observe, and what I see are students from different backgrounds with different abilities training to be the best that they can be, and I hope that in some small way, I can be a special part of our students reaching their personal goals.

 This has been a small insight into my personal journey and some of my thoughts concerning the quest for Cho Dan. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this with you and I thank those of you who have taken the time to read it.

 In closing, I would like to express my many thanks to Golden Tiger Karate and its students for helping me along the way on a long journey that will continue to be demanding, exciting, exhausting, and yes frustrating at times, but in the long run, so >rewarding. I appreciate all of you, and I contribute all that you have offered to any success that I have had doing what I love to do.

 A Very special thanks to my LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, my wife Marie Trippett, Sadan Nim Virgil DeGarmo, Grandmaster Nenow, Nick Takacs, Les Street, Barb Street, and Jerome Betz.

God Bless


UPDATE:     Mike studied for ministry and is now a youth pastor for a local church.