Role Model

RoleModelWhen I started training in June 2014 I couldn’t imagine being where I am now.  I thought if by some miracle I didn’t die of a heart attack, I’d still be pretty low-ranked.  I’ve trained hard, had tons of fun and…  Now I find myself in an interesting position that I didn’t think would come until, at the earliest, brown belt.

I am a role model.

Little girls see that women can do this Karate thing too.  Teenage girls see someone who has trained for a shorter time than they have pass them up in rank – and they are starting to take more interest in their own training.  College women see me as a very strong, capable leader (I am Sempai to that dojo) who is herself growing in skill and who freely shares what she knows.

Sure, the limelight is kinda nice, but it’s a lot of responsibility.

I have to be better.  I’m not talking about having to have incredible speed, unstoppable power, textbook form, and all that jazz and having to have it all right now.  I’m on my own timetable with that – like everyone else I have my strengths, my weaknesses, things that challenge me, and things that come more easily to me.  When I say I have to be better, I mean mentally better.

StaringThey’re watching me.

What do I do when I’m punched a little too hard?  What do I do if I accidentally hit to hard?  How do I teach someone who is struggling with something simple?  If I myself am struggling with something simple how do I handle it?  How do I react when I lose a sparring match to someone who is lower ranked than I am?  What do I say and do when I win a sparring match against someone who is higher ranked?

As the only grown woman in one dojo, as Sempai to a dojo full of young adults, and as one of few grown women in a third dojo, I’d better watch myself.  If I make a mistake, do I accept responsibility for it?


I will make mistakes.  I will tread on toes, I will be obnoxious, impatient, snarky, angry, and whiney.  Sensei might assign me push-ups.  Yes, folks, I am human.  But will that make me less of a role model?  No.  Not if I work to make things right and accept the consequences with grace and humor.That, friends, is what being a role model is all about.  It’s not all about your achievements, it’s not about being a perfectionist, it’s about helping others realize what they themselves could be some day.  Because “some day” might come sooner than they think, and they might suddenly find themselves in the spotlight.

For those of you who were and are still role models to me (and there are a LOT of you)- thank you.  I appreciate you greatly.  And guess what?  Some of you who look up to me are also role models for me.  I’ve watched your progress, I’ve seen you overcome obstacles, and I admire you.  Rock on!  I’ll help you as much as I can 🙂

Author: Joelle White

I began training in Karate in June of 2014 after a 27 year hiatus.

9 thoughts on “Role Model”

    1. That’s funny, I thought you were my role model, Rach! And yes, we do have quite a bit in common with our respective Karate journeys – I love that!!! Ossu!

  1. Brilliant read, thanks Joelle! Btw, you talk here about being a role model to little girls / teenage girls / grown women, but I’ve read several things on your blog over the last few months which show that you’re just as much of a role model to boys and men. I also love your point about people who both look up to you AND function as your own role model at the same time – these sound like very rich relationships 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, and thanks for the compliments, Kai! I guess I did overlook the boys/men. Sorry, guys – I grew up a tomboy in the rabidly feminist culture of the 1970’s 🙂 I am very grateful to be in many different relationships both giving and receiving from one another 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and reading, Kai!

  2. I like your style of writing so much. Yes, I agree that it’s important to help the more inexperienced grow in a dojo environment. I think that the relatively formal atmosphere in a karate dojo helps this – juniors have a natural tendency to look up to their elders.

    1. Thanks for the compliment! Yes, juniors do look up to their elders, which is why I wish the facility that hosts my Home Dojo would advertise more to adults. I can’t tell you how much good it did me to train with adults when I was a teenager.

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