This is what my son Jaden shared before the his Black Belt test today…So, today at 2PM I’m testing for my first degree black belt in kenpo karate at Tama Martial Art.
Its been… 14 years since I started learning martial arts, my father is the head instructor and owner of TAMA, which literally means Taningco Academy of Martial Arts. I remember the first thing I was ever taught was the staff kata(a form, kind of like a warrior dance)by a brown belt named Cody.
No one showed me how to punch or kick, I was 7 and at the dojo when I was watching class and finally told my dad I wanted to participate. After the lesson had ended he told me “now you have to do this, it’s in your blood” and from that point on whenever I was with him it was usually spent at the dojo learning various arts.
I poured a lot of time into Kenpo, nearly getting brown belt in the first few years but I fell in LOVE with Muay Thai kickboxing and dropped the karate.
I didnt realize how good it was for me, so when I stopped entirely I put on a lot of weight, not neccesarily because I stopped physical activity, I just became an emotional eater as I didnt have a physical outlet anymore. Around the time I was 17, already playing and had fallen in love with my true passion, music, there was a situation at my home where I didnt feel safe and I wanted to protect those around me, more so than I already could.
So I asked my father to start training me again, you should have seen the “I told you so” look on his face hahaha. I fell in love with it again because it was finally something I wanted to do for myself. I started teaching shortly after resuming my training, to help out the school and to essentially try and take care of myself making money from teaching.
A LOT of things happened in my personal life that I didnt know how to deal with, even probably made it worse for some people, and I fell into a deep depression. Gained a ton of weight, lost all motivation to train on my own. I was going to test for my black belt when I was 18 but I was too out of practice and too out of shape to even consider it again.
After finding myself again this past January, falling in love with my own self-discipline and work ethic, I dropped the weight and took my martial arts seriously again.
It was always there for me, inside and out. I just had to embrace it, as it was a part of me, as it was “in my blood”
Could I have continued to train when I was 14 and gotten my black belt at 15? Yes. Could I have done it at 18 if I wasn’t depressed? Probably. Those times, those versions of me, however, weren’t ready for the life I’m living now. I’m grateful for all of the hard times pushing me back and away from this test because now it means the WORLD to me that I get to represent the best version of myself and my dojo, my family. I hope to make everyone proud of today.
The support I’ve received from my family and friends has been tremendous, I’ve absorbed their love and passion and I will channel it today with the force of a thousand suns. I just wanted to share what’s been on my mind… no matter where life takes you, you will find your OWN spot and take that shit by the horns, even after your many failures. That’s when it counts, that’s when life MATTERS. When you make an effort, for yourself. I love you all, forever and a day!
Jaden Taningco, age 21