Hi guys! Hope you're all enjoying the forum I'm posting this thread here today to share with you all a very personal aspect to my life as a martial artist (we all know I have epilepsy and this is unrelated to that). I have been carrying a heavy burden. A burden for a long time with seemingly no hope for it being lifted. That burden was shame, especially in regards to martial artists. 6 or so years ago I was a 3rd Dan commanding a very intimidating presence and a large, immature ego (like most 19-20 year olds). It's this immaturity coupled with just an altogether personally crappy situation that led me to behaving and acting in a way that was unacceptable towards 2 instructors at my school, one of whom was one of the 2 chief instructors. I basically told my dojo to kiss my arse, spat my dummy out and had a tantrum trying to defend the actions and opinions of another student (who was also a black belt and a personal friend and training partner). This student and his actions/opinions/agenda were in the wrong (though I didn't think so at the time) yet I'd committed myself, via my pride to his side. I won't go into all the gory details since they're not necessary. The punishment we received was severe. I was 3rd Dan, also carrying the titles Menkyo Chuden and Renshi Sho respectively. My friend was 2nd dan (if memory serves) and carried Menkyo Okuden. They were stripped. We were both demoted to 3rd Kyu (brown belt in our syllabus). My friend trained once in a brown belt and has never set foot in that dojo as a student again. My attendance was iffy for a long while. Over time I just got on with it and carried on regardless. I took it all, the shame, the way people looked at me, the etiquette all being reversed on me. All of it. I never thought I would wear another belt apart from that brown belt again. But I couldn't leave. Like some sort of bound spirit I just kept coming back. Eventually (after about 3 years or so) I was awarded my 1st Dan again. It was done very quietly. the chief instructor whom I had crossed took off the brown belt and put that black belt MY black belt round my waist. I was elated. Then things started moving a little fast (I fell in love, we had a child, we became homeless, recovered from being homeless all the while I got fat and out of practice and shape while everyone else in the dojo advanced well beyond me). I started attending the dojo again. It was like a different place. I felt like a stranger, an invader. My attendance initially was irregular and poor. Outside of the dojo I was getting back into shape (cycling stupid miles a day to and from work helped loads) and building up my family home. I started attending regular and trying to get back into it all but I just didn't feel like a karateka anymore, my spark was gone. I forced myself to lessons when I really had to. Eventually I got back to training fairly regularly and set my goals and coming up to present day I'm in a lot better shape than I was and in a much healthier state all round. Please check my Getting Back On Track thread please for my slightly obscure and emotional explanation of what happened in the dojo today. But to cut the story short. All my titles and grades have been fully reinstated! I am once again a Menkyo holder, a 3rd Dan! all the self punishment and all the shame and all the burden lifted. But above all. I now have fully the trust and respect of 2 of the most influential and important people in my life (outside of my missus and kids of course). 2 people that took in a 13 year old from a broken home and at risk of easily becoming a thug and moulded me into something greater than I could have ever imagined myself being. Thanks for reading guys. And the underlying message here is: NEVER GIVE UP! Even in the face of utter shame and dishonour, personal growth and real strength can be obtained.