This is for the topic of my choice option on Common App
From a young age it was apparent that I was not like all the other boys. Other boys played baseball at the park or tossed the pigskin around with their dad. They aspired to be the next Babe Ruth, or score crush defenders like a juggernaut. However, for me smacking a ball with a stick or trucking through linebackers was never very appealing. Instead, I preferred to invest my time in front of the television watching Kung Fu flicks.
Day after day, I intently watched, mouth agape at the intense dexterity and physical strength of the heroes and bad guys alike. I observed their lightning fast strikes, bone crushing kicks, and unparalleled athletic ability, attempting to mimic their movements. These men truly inspired me. They waned me off the traditional mindset and ambitions of the normal seven-year-old boy and pushed me towards the path of becoming a Kung Fu master. So in the summer of 2000, I enrolled in the local Karate Dojo to follow the path of my heroes.
At first, Karate was a major letdown. I envisioned bodies flying through the air, Karate gurus viciously sparring, and people reducing cement blocks to rubble with only their heads. Instead I came into a room with a couple of kids my age and a feeble looking sensei. I was disappointed, ashamed at myself thinking that this establishment could manifest me into the next Kung Fu master, the next Bruce Lee - the next Dragon. Little did I know Karate, in all its zen-like mystery, held a deeper truth than punches, kicks, and flips.
I learned to appreciate Karate. With each passing day I realized more and more what Karate was really about. I discovered the true purpose of Karate was not to produce Kung Fu masters or even to teach kids how to fight. The true purpose of Karate was to instill good traits and values in its students. Right from the beginning my sensei stressed the importance of self-discipline. He believed that the fire in a heart was far more important than the strength of a punch. That viciously punching a bag or shrieking at the top of my lungs held little importance to the effort I gave. He explained to me that I had to be able to work as hard as I possibly could even when no one was watching. I needed to be able to push myself, regardless of my emotional state: stoic in my persistence through tough times and never taking the easy way out.
I still hold this philosophy of self-mastery and effort close to my heart. It has become who I am. The self-discipline I was taught translated to my work ethic. Without my inner strength, steeled over with the guidance of my sensei, I would not be the athlete or scholar I am today.