Saturday was a very special day. Holly Cyr received her Black Belt in Mantis Boxing (Tángláng quán 螳螂拳) on Saturday, January 2, 2016. The first Black Belt awarded by my hand.
Holly has spent the past seven, almost eight years dedicated and committed to not only her training, but the elevation of her peers. She constantly contributes to the wŭguān (martial hall) in any way possible, and has been an upstanding student, mentor, and later instructor.
Out of the past 8 years, she spent 6 of those years attending classes every possible day we had them, including workshops (here and abroad), retreats, and competitions. Training during the day, and then returning again at night. Day after day.
When I returned from a 4 day training session with my Sifu in San Diego, back in 2010, we added a class devoted to just throws so we could focus on that. Holly jumped right in. When we added Kickboxing, she offered to help teach. When we needed a kids instructor, she was right there helping to run the class, and organize holiday events for the kids.
Holly has beat the odds and continued to stay the course. Taking on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, she devoted her focus and attention to increasing her skills. She competed, took a gold medal at the IBJJF, and was one of the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belts in our school.
Over the past year, the pieces of her Mantis Boxing have coalesced; Holly has become a force to be reckoned with on and off the mats. Her hard work has paid off, and will continue to serve her well into the future.
It has been a true honor to watch Holly grow and evolve. As a teacher, it is the pinnacle of our achievements to be able to see someone reach this level. Many have fallen by the wayside over the years, which only makes this achievement all the more meaningful.
Staying the course for this length of time, persevering, seeing something through to this level, is a sign of true inner strength.
Make no mistake, this does not define an end to the journey, nor a completion of training, but more aptly, an entry into greater sight, skills, knowledge, and the ability to share those with others. It is an indication that she has grown, evolved, and become something far more than when she started. The art is now inside of you Holly. May you share it wisely.
No matter where you go. No matter how hard life gets. No one can ever take this achievement away from you. Thank you Holly for many years of dedication and commitment to the arts, and the pleasure of being able to award you this honor. You are an inspiration to all those who follow in your footsteps. I look forward to seeing where you take the arts from here.
photos courtesy of Haeyong Moon