My first karate class was on August 2, 2006. I was just 3 years old. I had a blast! From that day on I was on a ‘quest to be my best,’ which is a motto at Action Karate. Some of the techniques were difficult at first with my limb difference, especially push-ups. It was hard doing one handed push-ups when I first tried, but not anymore. Mr. Kraus and the other instructors helped me a lot and encouraged me to keep practicing.
One of my favorite memories was earning my first trophy at a tournament when I was 4. I was so excited that I slept with the trophy that night!
As the katas got longer and more difficult, I realized I had to challenge myself every day. When I started ‘board breaking,’ I had no idea I had it in me to break a wooden board in half with just my hand or foot, but I did it! I learned that I had more strength in my body and mind than I realized.
Year by year with a lot of practice I got better and better until finally I made it into Black Belt Training. This is where sparring began. When I first began sparring, I thought I was going to die! Why do we have to wear all the gear if it is not going to hurt, I thought to myself. But now I know that it is a healthy competition in a friendly environment.
I was ‘pumped’ when I got to use my first weapon in class. It was an Arnis stick. Arnis sticks are basically a small pole of wood that you can twirl between your thumb and fingers. I was worried that I would have trouble using both Arnis sticks with just one hand, but Mr. Kraus helped me modify the kata. The staff is my favorite weapon because you can do everything with it using just one hand.
This past December, I got my junior black belt in Chinese kenpo karate. Now I will always be on a ‘quest to be my best.’
For more on Riley, check out the following article written about him!