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Austin Smith hails from Kingston, Jamaica where he grew up with his twin brother and three sisters. Following his graduation from college, he came to the USA to go to Dental School in Washington DC. Following a one year residency in New York, Austin returned to Washington for three more years of specialty training as an Orthodontist. Growing up Austin enjoyed playing soccer and cricket. In addition to Martial Arts he enjoys playing tennis, going to movies and reading.

Having always been interested in the Martial Arts, Austin was able to get started while working in Toledo, Ohio. Upon moving to Florida he wanted to continue his training and signed up at the University Karate Center three years ago. Because of his previous training (two and a half years of Shotokan) Austin has made great progress here at UKC, and will test for his Black Belt this month.

Austin considers his father to have been a major positive influence in his life. As a youngster he looked up to his father and always wanted to grow up to be like him. Austin enjoys his Martial Arts training and sometimes wishes that he had begun practicing at a younger age. He feels that the regular regimen helps him approach his everyday activities and work in a self-confident and disciplined manner, and last year he contributed an article to this newsletter which was drawn from his personal experience here at the karate center.

Following the achievement of his Black Belt Austin wants to continue his training at UKC to acquire the higher degrees of knowledge represented by the postgraduate ranks.


Insight to Excellence

When you close your eyes, what do you see? What are the pictures that come to mind? Here’s a quick experiment: Think of an image you want to see, and then close your eyes. Maybe you picture yourself accepting the trophy for a major martial arts competition. Maybe you visualized meeting your favorite Martial Artist. No matter what image you held in your mind, you just practiced an exercise called visualization. Visualization is about building positive actions out of positive images you create in your mind.

Learning to create positive visualizations is an important part of a Black Belt program. Champions in any sport or endeavor have mastered the art of visualization. It’s a way to program the mind for success by actively imagining success every step of the way.

Visualization is really just a form of concentration. It’s a technique used long before you face your opponent (or any crucial situation). Because visualization is meant to cultivate positive mental images, it is similar to daydreaming, with one important difference. When we daydream, our minds wander from image to image. With visualization, the "dream" is under our control. We shape images in order to make those images become a reality. By creating images of success and repeating them, we harness the power of the image to the body. It’s simple: if you picture yourself enjoying victory, you’re more likely to live that experience when you compete.

Visualization doesn’t come without effort. Like every aspect of training, it is a skill that improves with practice. Applying yourself to positive visualization can add a valuable dimension to your overall improvement as a martial artist.

Anyone who sets goals will come up against obstacles that may slow progress. Visualization can help you overcome these obstacles. Whenever you feel frustrated or disappointed, visualize the moments of triumph that attaining Black Belt will bring. You can be sure that every time you visualize victory, you will be bringing yourself one step closer to achieving it.

Building a Positive Self-image

All true champions have it. For some it comes easily; others must work hard to attain it. Everyone agrees that it is an essential ingredient to a successful journey along the path to Black Belt. What is this all important trait? You guess it! A positive self-image.

A Positive self-image is important because the way you picture yourself is bound to affect the way things turn out for you. For example, if you think of yourself as someone who is "good at math," then you will probably do well on your next math test. The same is true of the Martial Arts. If you hold a positive image of yourself, then you are more likely to achieve positive results from your training. The crucial point to remember is this: a negative self-image leads to defeat, a positive self-image leads to victory.

Sometimes it’s tempting to measure your self-image against the qualities and opinions of others. Even though it might seem difficult at times, don’t let anyone decide how you should see yourself! People can certainly help reinforce your positive self-image. But no one should ever convince you to doubt your abilities.

Having a positive self-image doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be perfect. Recognize that you have strong points as well as weak ones, just like everyone else. And never be ashamed of your abilities. You must like yourself and believe in yourself so that others will too!

A positive self-image doesn’t appear out of thin air. You can improve your self-image by following a few suggestions:

1. Honestly evaluate your present self-image. Get a clear picture of how you view yourself. Identify those qualities you admire and those you would like to change. Then, dedicate yourself to making the changes.

2. Concentrate on succeeding in the future. Everyone has experienced failures or regretted certain actions. Look to the future and try your best to put the setbacks behind you.

3. Develop a positive relationship with the people in your life. This is especially important with your instructor, teammates and others who influence your training. Let them know they can count on you, and take the kind of actions that encourage them to expect great things from you.

4. Develop personal habits you can be proud of. Show the pride you take in your appearance by dressing neatly and keeping yourself well groomed. Resolve to be on time wherever you go. These habits will improve other people’s image of you and will boost your own self-image.

5. Finally, expect great things of yourself and push harder. Remember, we strive to live up to our own expectations. So expect to make progress. Expect to succeed in your goals. Expect great things of yourself and you will achieve them. As your self-image grows, so does your pride. With a positive self-image, you are that much closer to great achievements.