On December 23, Christian Forcelli, Ivan Zhang, and Dawn Alcera, students at Pawling Karate, earned black belt degrees at Pawling Karate. A black belt is a great achievement and recognizes years of effort. Pawling Karate students train in the art of Ryu Renshi-Dan karate, which is a mix of traditional styles and modern self-defense techniques. All three students have been training in martial arts for several years and balance their martial arts training with school, jobs, sports, and family commitments.
Christian Forcelli is a student at Brinckerhoff Elementary School in Fishkill. He started his martial arts journey in Dobbs Ferry, NY, at Ryu Renshi-Dan Karate. When his family moved to Dutchess County, they sought out a school with the same style, and he continued his training at Pawling Karate. Christian is a member of the Leadership Team and helps to teach beginner students. Outside of karate he enjoys baseball and music. Ivan Zhang is a student at Pawling Middle School and a sports enthusiast playing on several teams. Wrestling, football, and karate have all put demands on his time. He not only balances activities with school, but has also joined the Leadership Team to volunteer his time assisting others in their training. Dawn Alcera is a teacher in the Putnam Valley School District, and balances her martial arts training with work and her family. She pursues her goals and strives for excellence. All three students earned their black belts after a rigorous promotion test.
The black belt test at Pawling Karate involved intensive cardio exercises while the candidates had to protect themselves from a barrage of attacks. A selection of katas (traditional karate forms) were performed with Dawn, Christian, and Ivan leading the group of intermediate and advanced level students. The test concluded with sparring, which consisted of controlled contact fighting with protective gear. Each candidate had to go many rounds, starting with advanced level students and working their way up through to their instructors. The last combat, at which point they were drenched in sweat and exhausted, were against Sensei-Dai Jocelyn (Black Belt), Sensei Brandon (1st Degree Black Belt), Sensei Ken (2nd Degree Black Belt), Sensei Ken Sr. (2nd Degree Black Belt), Sensei Cosmo (3rd Degree Black Belt), and Sensei Alexis (3rd Degree Black Belt).
Sensei Alexis, the chief instructor at Pawling Karate, said, “Testing for a black belt pushes you to the point where you have nothing left; you’re tired, and the average person would give up. But the average person doesn’t get their black belt. It takes tremendous spirit to get to that point and push through. To be that tired and sore, but keep your hands up and fight back. That’s what we’re looking for. That’s a black belt.” Christian, Ivan, and Dawn made it through the test and earned their levels of black belt. Their families, teachers, and fellow students are extremely proud and inspired. These students demonstrate the adage that a black belt is a white belt who never gave up.
Pawling Karate is located in the heart of the Village of Pawling and offers classes in traditional martial arts for children as young as three all the way to teen and adult programs. For more information visit PawlingKarate.com online.