Devon Kruger - Shodan-ho 2019

My name is Devon Kruger. I was born on September 29th 2003, in Nanaimo. I have lived here my whole life. I am currently going into grade 11. I love to play the alto sax, and my favourite subject is math. One day I hope to become a chef. 

 

The first sport I ever tried was ballet, I did that for a year but it wasn’t really my thing. I then switched over to gymnastics for a year, but I didn’t like that either. Finally I joined karate in 2011, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I have trained at the shima dojo for almost 8 years. I’ve been on my school's volleyball team since grade 8. I've also had the privilege of making it to provincials with my Mariners club volleyball team. Due to my sports I dealt with chronic pain in 2018, but with the help of a physiotherapist I was able to stay active. 

 

Karate has helped me learn so many life lessons and has made me very disciplined. I am now a lot better at persevering through hard things. I will always remember these values and use them in my everyday life. 

Karate has played a huge part in my life for a long time. It is so hard to think back to a time when I didn’t do it. One of my favourite things about karate is how you don’t only learn martial arts, you get stronger, learn life lessons, and even meet new people. There’s really nothing bad that can come out of doing karate, other than a couple injuries (but that’s to be expected with any sport).

 

Karate has made me feel so much more confident. When I was younger I felt small and weak, but now I feel a lot stronger and more confident in everyday life. Whenever I’m having a bad day, karate just completely takes my mind off it (even if only for an hour). It feels like a safe space where I can show my true personality. I am quite the introvert so this has helped me come out of my shell a lot, in karate you just have to know what you’re doing and be proud of it. I get very anxious and have anxiety/panic attacks which make it hard for me to really enjoy things, because I just get stressed about them.

 

Even though karate can stress me out sometimes, I use the perseverance it taught me, and keep going. I truly believe that I wouldn’t be in the mental state I am now if it wasn’t in karate. Karate has definitely made me feel really fit and happy with the way I look. Working out is a really hard thing for some people to do. I feel like sometimes I take my willpower for granted. The strength I have gained has helped me so much with volleyball, school sports, and even in my everyday life.

 

Having the ability to workout on a daily schedule is something that can prove to be very useful later in life. I feel a lot healthier when I workout and I hope to be able to keep up a routine. One of the main lessons I’ve learnt is discipline, this is always a good thing to know. This can help you in school, with paying attention, and also when you get a job. Perseverance is such a good trait to have. We learn it whenever we feel like quitting. Many times other people help us develop this skill by encouraging us to keep going. It can apply to many things in everyday life.

 

For the last year or so I have been dealing with chronic knee and back pain. I thought I would have to quit all of my sports in order to heal. But I was able to slightly adapt karate to fit my restrictions. I am so grateful that I was able to continue. This has been a long journey, and I didn’t want to have to end it before I reached my goal. Karate takes my mind off whatever problems I am having. Certain katas calm me down, with small, soft movements. While sparring, and punching bags help me get rid of my anger.

 

I feel that it has made me a lot more polite and respectful, because at karate you have to pay attention and always respect your teachers. When I was little and maybe a yellow belt I would always come to school and tell my friends what happened in the class the night before, it was the one thing I loved. I clearly remember the feeling of learning my first punch and feeling like I was the coolest person ever. I am so incredibly proud to be able to do karate.

 

It is such a beautiful martial art. Doing it for this long has made me form “karate” habits outside of the dojo. Sometimes I bow before entering a room, or say “hai” to a teacher. Those little things may be embarrassing but they make me realize how much karate has been ingrained into my brain. When I am older and have kids, I definitely want to put them in karate. In the long run, there are so many benefits from doing it. 

 

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop”

-Confucius

 

This principle has helped me in karate. I think it’s very important for people to know that it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to improve in an area, the only thing that matters is that you keep going. It was hard for me to keep going when I was younger, because I knew that younger siblings were likely to fall behind their older siblings.

 

Doing it with Jamie definitely made me more comfortable and feel more at home. All of the teachers I’ve had over the years have been very supportive. They all treat me with respect even though I may be a lower belt than them. That is one of the reasons why I feel comfortable in the dojo. I have never felt like I was being talked down to, which has made my karate experience so much more enjoyable.

 

I am so proud that there are almost as many girls as there are guys in my class. I love that the stereotype of only guys doing karate is ending. I speak on behalf of all girls when I say that all of us have had an experience where someone has made us feel unsafe.

 

Every single day women are objectified and hollered at. So naturally I wanted to join something that made me feel empowered and I could protect myself. Now, as I am a brown/black belt, I feel much safer doing everyday things. I also know that my friends feel a sense of security when they are around me.