Personal Story

En 077
Prof. Joan K. Johnson
Emanuel Kakaounakis
October 4, 1998

I was five years old, a little crazy kid that always caused trouble. My father thought I needed discipline, and brought me to my first karate class. It was the beginning of something that I looked forward to every other day of the week.

The first couple of classes werenít too exciting; it was about learning my first form. It consisted of only punches, until I formed a little bit of a stretch to kick. The next week I had my first friendly fight in class. I was a little nervous but once the teacher gave me the signal to fight, I attacked my opponent and knocked him off his feet. My teacher said he had never seen a white belt fight so well with a higher belt. Thatís when I discovered a sport that I started to love.

On the day of my first test to move up to yellow belt, it was very easy for me. I felt like I was a brick wall, and that no one my size could defeat me. I started to get better and my teacher was training harder with me each day we had class. He told me if I worked at the rate he was teaching me, Iíd be able to compete in the Olympics at the age of sixteen.

My first chance to show my friends and family that I was good at karate was in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in a public school. I was so nervous about this tournament I felt sick. Well it was my time to shine, and shine I did. In the peewee division for my first event I had to display my form. I did every step of my form so precisely and well, that I beat everyone in my group and won first place. The next event was fighting. I was a little scared, but, looking at my fatherís face, I couldnít let him down. I beat my first three opponents with no problem. It all came down to the fight for first and second but I didnít really want to fight. My next opponent was from my karate class, and was a good friend. I knew I could beat him. My father said, ďjust fight him; it doesnít matter who wins as long as we have fun.Ē My first kick was a straight front kick into my friendís stomach and I was awarded a point. The second kick was timed perfect, a spinning back kick right into his side. My first tournament was a success. I came home with two first place trophies that I deserved.

After many years of hard work and dedication I have succeeded in receiving my black belt. Numerous trophies and metals were served as a testament to my success. My instructor was very proud of how far I had come and how much I had accomplished but I had yet to face one of my biggest challenges, the Junior Olympic Tournament. For the next four weeks I committed myself to training hard. As the tournament day approached, my teacher intensified my training with full contact karate. This consisted of three-minute rounds of full contact matches. The support I received from my parents, instructor and peers was overwhelming. I was very nervous but new I could do well.

The tournament was held on March 16th, 1994 at Hofstra University. I was nervous and felt nauseous. My instructor encouraged me to concentrate and focus. My first match was extremely difficult; I had been kicked to the ground, punched in the face, but started to adjust in full contact fighting. I made it to the final round of the tournament. My opponent was well trained and fierce. He came at me with speed and kicked me to the ground twice. When he came a third time, I gave him a spinning back kick to the face, and he fell on the floor with a bloody nose. I thought I had broken his nose, so I didnít want to continue the match. At the end I was awarded second place, that I was honored to accept. I left not only knowing that I could have advanced, but with the confidence