Self Defense America holds black belt test

Six students earned black belts

Shelby County is home to six new black belts. Six students from Center and the surrounding areas achieved the prestigious black belt level of mastery from Self Defense America on the square. 

These individuals ranged from the ages of 11 to 56. They were trained in Taekwondo, Filipino Stick and Knife, as well as self-defense. Norman Isch Jr, Samuel Brazzel, Maximus Rojas, Ethan McElroy, Tracie Galindo, and Logan Galindo were pushed to their limits during the grueling test that lasted somewhere between six and seven hours.

During that time, the students were required to show a mastery of each belt level from white all the way to black. They were also required to perform a drill that the instructors playfully called monkey-in-the-middle. It is a self defense drill where one individual stands at the center of a circle of multiple attackers and has to fend them off using the teachings of their Sensei for a full 15 minutes. In addition to these two things, there is also a written test. Students are also required to break a board as well as a brick.

Becoming a black belt is no simple task. It requires anywhere from three to seven years of training.

“I’ve been trying to get my black belt since I was 19.” Mr. Isch, now in his fifties, said. “I was sidelined twice with knee injuries and surgeries. I decided to try it again. I’ve been working at it here for about four years, and I’ll finally achieve my goal.” He jokingly added that he’s “doing it for the old guys.”

Tracie Galindo, a physics teacher at Center High School, will become a black belt along with her youngest son Logan.

“When we first moved here, my oldest son joined, and my second son joined, and they were enjoying it so much. I wanted to do something with my kids. This is what I chose to do with them. We do tournaments together now.” Tracie said.

When asked about their choice to undertake this journey, many of the students had similar reasons for joining. Several of them were introduced to martial arts by their friends and most, if not all, of them enjoy the physicality of training their bodies to defend themselves.

Samuel Brazzel was hooked after sitting in on only a couple of classes.

“I started because two of my friends at Joaquin had done it, and they asked me to come watch them. I came and watched, and two classes later, I was joining. I was into it, and I wanted to do it myself.” Samuel said.

Whatever the reason for undertaking this journey, you can’t help but respect the individuals who put in so much time and effort to achieve their goals.

Self Defense America holds a black belt test twice a year and other belt tests once every other month. Any interested parties should seek them out on the square in Center.