Announcing Our New Black Belt Holders!

Hussain, Suhail, Yasmeen, Master Rafael and Thomas

Hussain, Suhail, Yasmeen, Master Rafael and Thomas

As I write this post, my heart is filled with joy and pride.  On Thursday 5th of February we had our latest Black Belt grading at Zen-Do.

Congratulations to Hussain Al-Fardan, Thomas Blake and Yasmeen Fakhro on attaining their Black Belts.  The grading was almost two hours long.  It consisted of lots and lots of basic techniques, combinations, pairs, Black Belt attack techniques, and several rounds of sparring.  I must say they did a FANTASTIC job.  I’m so proud of them.  Well done guys.

My instructor, former British, European, and World Kickboxing Champion Master Rafael Nieto, came all the way from the UK to supervise the grading.  He gave them quite a hard time, but they did very well.  He told me he was very happy with their standard and the effort they put into their grading.

As a martial arts instructor, few things compare to the joy of seeing one of your students getting their Black Belt.  It’s not really about the belt, it’s what the belt represents.  The Black Belt represents years of hard work, dedication, commitment and sacrifice.  It means you’re part of a small, global fraternity that have very unique skills.

It’s about having proven to yourself that you are capable of great things.  So few people make it to this level, and those that do have every right to be proud.  Yasmeen, Thomas and Hussain have been coming for several years.  It’s amazing how their personalities have grown, and how their confidence has just soared.  It’s almost like magic.

In order to get a Black Belt in Zen-Do not only do you have to go through the difficult test, but you also have to pass a “personal development goal”, and write an essay.  The personal development goal is unique to each student.  The goal is agreed between the instructor and the student, and it’s usually based on a weakness the student wants to overcome.

Let me share some excerpts from the essays that the recent Black Belt graduates wrote.

From Yasmeen:
“About 5 years ago… I was very uncoordinated and physically thin and weak […] Zen-Do helped in so many ways.  The push-ups and sit-ups, hover position, table maker, and other exercises made me stronger.  Zen-Do also encouraged me to join sports clubs in school.  […] Zen-Do has had a major impact on my life.  It has improved me both physically and mentally.  […]  I am proud of myself because I have persevered and haven’t quit.”

Well done Yasmeen!  Incidentally, Yasmeen Fakhro is now the youngest Black Belt at Zen-Do!  She’s only twelve!  She’s taken over from my nephew Fahad, who attained his Black Belt in December 2007 at the age of 14.  She started at the tender age of seven.  I’m really proud of you Yasmeen.

From Hussain:
“There are a lot of elements that can attract people to love Zen-Do, such as the way the instructors deal with the students and the family atmosphere inside the dojo. […] I attend Zen-Do almost every day and I did not miss a class, unless there was a clash between Zen-Do and my work…. I sometimes take leave from work just to attend Zen-Do […] Zen-Do is the place that changed my life completely.  The way I walk, the way I talk, even my mentality.  Zen-Do has changed my life style completely.  I used to be really shy talking in front of people, I used to be afraid to get involved in any fight; my knees start shivering whenever I find myself in a very serious situation.  That was in the past, but now, I’m ready to defend myself any time anywhere and I can withstand for my rights facing any one.  All of that is because of Zen-Do.”

Thanks Hussain for the kind words and the great job.  I can personally attest to what he’s saying, Hussain has turned into quite a ferocious fighter.  I feel sorry for anyone who would mess with him.  Congrats buddy.

From Thomas:
“September 13th 2003 I was 9 turning 10, my friends and I decided it would be a really cool idea to learn a martial art […] Over the years I had felt myself change, instead of finding I had to go to kickboxing, I wanted to go.  I wanted to earn the respect of my peers as I went to school the next day, smile on my face, blue belt in hand.  I had grown fitter, faster, stronger and all because of kickboxing […] [Zen-Do] has helped me grow as a person by teaching me responsibility, by letting me assist classes, help with children and showing that I am a willing, committed person.  It has given me a head-start in life by being work oriented very early on, in the respect I had to work for my belts and also work as an instructor […] All along this journey through kickboxing I’ve always loved the people, the people have always made it special […] No where I have ever been before have I seen such a good community spirit.”

Thomas is now 15 years old.  Well done Thomas!  You did a great job!

The Zen-Do spirit
At Zen-Do we have a philosophy, we don’t see ourselves in the business of martial arts, but rather in the business of enhancing and improving people’s lives through martial arts.  We take great pleasure in helping people.  It’s what we do.

People often give me far more credit than I deserve.  I’ve often been told how I changed someone’s life.  My real skill, if I have any at all, is the ability to find the spark that’s already in someone, and bring it out.  I help them discover their own unlimited potential.

Hussain, Yasmeen and Thomas have proven that anything is possible.  They persisted while so many have quit.  Well done guys, an excellent job!

Before I end this post, I want to give special thanks to Zen-Do Senior Instructor Sensei Vinod Joseph for preparing the students for their Black Belts.  Well done.

I’d also like to thank DBC GM Gero Presser for making his fancy camera available, and Sensei Ali Sroor for taking pictures.  Thanks also go to Sensei Abby Baker for filming the event.  I’ll post one or two video clips on this blog in the future.

Enjoy the photos:

Master Rafael Nieto

Master Rafael Nieto

Hussain, Thomas and Yasmeen getting ready for the grading.

Hussain, Thomas and Yasmeen getting ready for the grading.

I'm warning them about something, but I don't remember what.

I'm warning them about something, but I don't remember what.

Alaa Al-Alawai, Vinod Joseph and Fahad Algosaibi

Alaa Al-Alawai, Vinod Joseph and Fahad Algosaibi

Faris Algosaibi watching the grading

Front kicks

Front kicks

Doing spinning kicks

Doing spinning kicks

Current Black Belt holders, Faris, Alaa, Vinod and Fahad enjoying the show!

Current Black Belt holders, Faris, Alaa, Vinod and Fahad enjoying the show!

Working hard!

Working hard!

Doing jumping front kicks

Doing jumping front kicks

Hussain sweeping Thomas

Thomas doing and roundhouse kick

Thomas doing and roundhouse kick

Sensei Vinod and Yasmeen about to do front kick techniques

Sensei Vinod and Yasmeen about to do front kick techniques

Family and friends watching the sparring

Family and friends watching the sparring

Master Rafael Nieto smiling

Master Rafael Nieto smiling

Fahad jabbing Thomas (I think)

Fahad jabbing Thomas (I think)

Hussain and Fahad

Hussain and Fahad

Hussain punching Faris

Hussain punching Faris

Thomas kicking Fahad

Thomas kicking Fahad

Master Rafael watching the sparring.

Master Rafael watching the sparring.

Yasmeen being told "passed!"

Yasmeen being told "passed!"

Thomas receiving his Black Belt certificate

Thomas receiving his Black Belt certificate

Hussain receiving his Black Belt

Hussain receiving his Black Belt

Thomas, Yasmeen and Hussain with their Black Belt certificates

Thomas, Yasmeen and Hussain with their Black Belt certificates

Hussain, Suhail, Yasmeen, Master Rafael and Thomas

Hussain, Suhail, Yasmeen, Master Rafael and Thomas

Big smiles after the grading

Big smiles after the grading

The Black Belt "graduates" with family and friends

The Black Belt "graduates" with family and friends

Lots of smiles!

Lots of smiles!

Yasmeen Fakhro with her brother Faisal

Yasmeen Fakhro with her brother Faisal

Hussain getting a surprise celebration cake from his wife

Hussain getting a surprise celebration cake from his wife

6 Responses to Announcing Our New Black Belt Holders!

  1. Peter D'costa 9 February 2009 at 1:11 pm #

    Well do black-belt holder, Its nice to see these photos.

  2. Mark 9 February 2009 at 8:13 pm #

    Guys, I witnessed the whole event and the preceeding week or so when you guys were putting the finer touches to your techniques and skills. I was very impressed and look forward to you guys being at, I hope to emulate you, my black belt grading….congratulations all…

  3. Salah 10 February 2009 at 8:57 am #

    great ,good job and congrats to all, I waiting for mine 🙂

  4. Faris 10 February 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    Nice Post 🙂 . Congrats to all. Awesome performance all round!

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