Youth Forward Scholarship Summer 2017 – Discovering My Focus

Name: Edwin Christhuraj
From: Mountain View, California
Grade: 2017-2018: 12th Grade
School: Los Altos High School
Votes: 0

My role as a student of Chung Do Kwan style Karate first merged with my
new role as a volunteer and teacher just before high school. I
received my first degree black-belt that summer after just five years
of experience with the martial art. Despite my juvenility in Chung Do
Kwan, however, I felt that I possessed the experience befitting of a
teacher, thus motivating me to start volunteering in my Karate

I can still vividly remember my first day back in my Karate class as a
black-belt; I was constantly greeted with “Wows” and
“Congratulations,” instilling a newfound sense of responsibility
and power within me. Even those who were lower in rank but older in
age seemed to reciprocate a heightened sense of respect. As a
black-belt volunteer, I am frequently tasked with teaching lower
belts, such as white belt or yellow belt students, a job that often
requires a sort of patience that I did not quite have. In such cases,
the commanding presence I wished to have as a black-belt remained
stubbornly hidden within me. Despite being the “high and mighty”
black-belt among my peers, I frequently found myself feeling the most
intimidated. Questions were constantly being conjured up in my brain:
What new responsibilities would I be tasked with? How would I balance
respect and power? Ironically enough, I often found myself feeling
overwhelmed mentally during class rather than physically.

Soon however, I came to realize my shortcoming: my lack of focus. Focus
itself is in fact one of the key philosophies that Chung Do Kwan
stresses in becoming a good martial arts student and
teacher, and it is also a highly valued skill to have as a volunteer as well.
Thus, I put my efforts to improving this quality within myself. So
far, my efforts seemed to have payed off! My instructor often remarks
how the students I train perform incredibly well-focused Karate
forms, and how their technique reflects my own focus. After class
ends, many of my students even come up to me personally, thanking me
for motivating them to continue Karate, no matter age or physical

The happiness I feel every time I am graced with such remarks remains to
be an affirmation that I have done something to benefit others, and
that my transformation from a juvenile martial artist to seniority
was well deserved. Although this volunteering experience is not
directly related to my career passions for Aerospace Engineering, I
hope to utilize the focus I have gained as a Karate instructor this
field of study as well, whether this means coming up with engineering
solutions under the stress of a manned space mission, or resolving
workplace disputes surrounding an important project.

Now, as a second degree black-belt, I hope to continue positively
influencing those involved in Karate while also learning skills that
will make me effective inside and out of my Karate class.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".