Black Belt Essay

A Black Belt Essay

What Black Belt Means to Me

By: Ryan Ragan

For years, black belt has been my absolute goal. After success, failure, defeat, learning, assistance and so much more, being at karate has taught me a variety of ideas that could never be replaced. If I could I would absolutely sincerely thank everyone who ever helped me or even encouraged me during my process of becoming a black belt, because without them, I wouldn’t have this amazing, well worked for, opportunity in front of me.

Ever since I joined the “six week super kid transformation challenge” almost five years ago I have learned so much and had so many experiences that are irreplaceable. Each and every Sense that I have met I owe a thank you because without them, I would not be near where I am today. Thinking about testing for my black belt is absurd because karate has become one of the most important roles in my life.

Each lesson I learned taught me something new, and I am appreciative of each one. After trying several sports, Karate was the only activity that clicked for me.

Karate has taught me that becoming a black belt is something that can be achievable only by being guided through the program.

During my time as a white belt through red belt I learned self-discipline, self-defense, and many more key factors in life.

Something I learned that I will live by throughout my entire life are the principles of black belt: Modesty, courtesy, self control, perseverance, and indomitable spirit. For the rest of my life I will remember these principles. I will continue to be a black belt for the rest of my life and have the qualities of one.

What black belt means to me. Black belt is more of an idea than a thing that I can earn. To become a black belt yes you must have a high kick or a loud punch, but more than that you are someone who people can admire. Hypothetically, if someone that I had recently met shared with me that they were a black belt in karate, I would be extremely impressed. Hearing the word black belt is astronomical.

Earning one takes mental and physical pain from one. Not just anyone can become a black belt, it must be earned by a select group who has the potential of becoming a better person, a black belt with admirable qualities. I wish to be admired like that, my goal is to be in that select group. A goal without a plan and action is just a wish, which is why I have worked so hard for five years to reach my goal. If I could look back at myself the first day I ever stepped foot in that studio, I was five years old and cried during it. I would tell that kid that someday you will be a black belt. Someday you will be proud of yourself and everything that comes in the future and you will strive to be the best.

So, this is what black belt truly means to me and I cannot believe that it is so close.

Ryan’s Black Belt poster

January 2023 Newsletter

Check out January’s upcoming events!

Black Belt Essay

A Black Belt Essay

What being a black belt means to me.

By: Caitlyn Feeney

I started karate when I was five years old. Becoming a black belt seemed so far away and I remember always saying I would quit karate before I became a black belt. Six years later, here I am getting ready to test for my black belt. What does being a black belt mean to me? For me, being a black belt means I must be a good influence, encourage others who need it, always give it my best, and most importantly never giving up. 

Being a good influence is something I have learned from watching the black belts that teach me. For example, the Sensei’s are always making sure we are having fun but we are still expected to be respectful to them and to each other. The Sensei’s model respect daily by being kind to the students and to each other and always pushing us to do new things. Because of the Sensei’s influence most of the students’ attitudes on the mat are like the Sensei’s attitude – respectful.

I remember when I first started karate I was nervous and scared. All the sensei’s were encouraging me to get on the mat and try the class. It gave me the confidence to actually get out on the mat and try the class. Now because they were encouraging to me, I want to be encouraging to others too. Some of the ways I can be encouraging is to clap or cheer others on when they are performing, pay attention when it is another person’s turn on the mat, and congratulating them after something they’ve tried especially if they need more practice.

Through six years of doing karate I have learned that the more I practice the better I’ll get. Preparing for the black belt test has made me practice more than I ever have before. But the more I practice, the better I feel about myself, and the better I feel about myself the more I want to practice. I want to practice more and be better because I want to do the very best that I can on the black belt test. I don’t want to look back and say I could have done something better or stronger. I want to look back and know I did my very best work because I prepared the best that I could.

When I first started karate I never thought I would want to earn my black belt. If it wasn’t for my parents and the sensei’s pushing me, I might have quit. When I look back now, I think I should have been more confident. I have never been pushed to do anything I couldn’t do. I was only ever pushed to do things that I didn’t know I could do.  As a black belt I hope to be able to show beginner and intermediate belts what they can accomplish if they never give up and keep working. Once I am a black belt I will keep working hard toward my next black belt.

In conclusion, I am very proud to be given this opportunity to test for my black belt. I am proud of myself and all my hard work over the years. I am proud I never gave up and quit. Once a black belt, I will do my best to always remember to be a good influence, encourage others, do my best, and never give up. I will continue to practice hard and wear my black belt with confidence and pride.

Caitlyn’s Black Belt Poster

December 2022 Newsletter

Holiday Party Friday 23rd Starting at 5:45pm! Demonstrations, Food, Games, & Fun!!! If you are coming for regular class 4:30pm is for all Students & 5:15pm for all Tigers & Dragons! Party Starts at 5:45pm!!!


Ryan Ragan, Bella Rodgers, Caitlyn Feeney & Alyana Rivera for earning their Jr. Black Belt! 

Sensei’s Miah & Kobie Hemphill for earning their Senior Black Belt!

Martial Arts

Sensei Nick’s Sport Karate Cover Story

Check out this throwback to when Sensei Nick was featured as the cover story in Sport Karate Magazine, Issue 71, Nov-Feb 2001!

Cover Story – Nick Perdunn

By Boice Lydell

  • Date of birth: March 28, 1984
  • Age: 16
  • Place of birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Residence: Delran, New Jersey, USA
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Ethnic Origin: Italian
  • Style: Kenpo
  • School: Amerikick
  • Instructor: Mark Russo
  • Year started in martial arts: 1992
  • Year received black belt: 1996
  • Team: Team SMASH International 1997-2000
  • Sport Karate coach: Mark Russo
  • Favorite technique: 540 kick
  • First national win: 1997 Tornado Internationals
  • Sport karate world titles: 1999- 12-14 Hard creative forms world champion, 1999- 12-14 Hard/soft creative weapons world champion, 1998- 12-14 Hard creative forms world champion, 1998- Boys team sparring world champion, 1996- 10-11 point sparring world champion
  • Toughest forms/weapons opponent: Chris Millares
  • Toughest fighting opponent: Jermond Wiggins
  • Sport karate career highlight: Winning five world titles
  • Martial Arts goal #1: To open up his own successful karate school
  • Martial Arts goal #2: To win more world titles than Adrian Ulanoff
  • Non-martial arts goal: To finish school and be successful in life
  • Favorite tournament: Tornado Internationals and Amerikick
  • Favorite sport karate players:
    • Past forms: Charmichael Simon
    • Present forms: Chris Millares
    • Past fighting: Troy McCaskell
    • Present fighting: Justin Smith
  • Most admired martial artist: Just Smith
  • Most admired person: His parents, Art and Luann Perdunn
  • Favorite food: Cream chipped beef
  • Favorite movie: American Anthem
  • Favorite actor: Sylvester Stallone
  • Favorite magazine: Sport Karate Magazine
  • Favorite book: The Bible
  • Favorite music: Anything but country
  • Favorite hobby: Trench digging and landscaping
  • Favorite sport: Everything
  • Address: 72 Springcress Dr., Delran, NJ 08075
  • Phone: (856) 461-3626

“Oh yea baby” are the enunciated words from the crazed and smiling competitor as he points at the audience after his 360 drop kick has just crushed and mangled his make believe foe. This could only be the performance of one well known and easily liked sport karate player- Nick Perdunn. Perdunn is the happy-go-lucky type of teenager that can put on a show, unembarrassed by any action, get everyone to enjoy and watch for his uncanny mannerisms, yet stay the most modest and humble athlete that could be the envy of any instructor or parent. From blowing the pretend smoke off his pretend red hot kama to falling flat on his back to end his performance (obviously as crazy as Butch Togisala used to be), to his Indiana Jones routine, with the bull whip, leather jacket and hat, Perdunn could convince the novice spectator that he may be of the cocky and arrogant teenager type off stage. However in reality he’s reserved, generally quiet and stays on the sidelines and lets others, such as his best buddy and teammate Chris Millares, be the spectacle for non competition entertainment.

In actuality he’s many times the big tease as he’s as gullible for practical jokes as anyone can be (except perhaps the famed Ryan Huntley). And his biggest teaser is his best friend, Millares. As the first two members of Team SMASH International formed in 1996 by their coach and instructor, Perdunn formed a lasting friendship with Millares since the early 1990’s when he first met him. This occurred when Perdunn was invited to attend a blackbelt class as a brown belt at his karate school. Perdunn was a talented brown belt if not unintentionally deceiving one. For it was during one such workout that the instructor, Mark Russo, asked Perdunn to attempt a 540 kick to which Perdunn attempted to near perfection, little to Russo’s knowledge that the other school instructor, Justin Smith had been training Perdunn to do it for some time. This perfection of technique led Perdunn to be invited by Russo to continue as a member of the class.

The unexpected should always be expected from Perdunn however, as his record indicates, even though he sometimes appears like the push-over type in reality. The two world champions with records of winning the most titles in a single year know the best. Adrian Ulanoff with seven world titles to his credit in 1998 and Chris Sublett with seven world titles to his credit in 1999 were both stopped dead in their tracks from winning eight titles because of Nick Perdunn. Actually Perdunn prevented Sublett from winning a possible nine world titles last year, as he stopped Sublett from winning both the 12 to 14 creative forms title and creative weapons title. And in the year prior against Ulanoff in the 12 to 14 creative forms division, Perdunn headed to the Grand Finale as the underdog to Ulanoff by four one-hundreds of a point eliminations loser to him only to top him in the Finale by two one-hundredths for the world title.

Perdunn could easily be termed the record “spoiler” but this is never-the-less a testament to his abilities. However he’s had his share of second places as well. Looking at it as either a credit to his skill or disappointment not to take the title, besides his two world titles last year, he took as incredible five runner-up titles. Two of those losses were handed to him by Sublett in the same 12 to 14 year old musical divisions of which he took the creative wins in, while he also took second in junior soft forms, 14 to 15 year old point sparring and a runner-up junior team sparring title.

Like many other youngsters, Perdunn was lured to karate as an eight year old watching Bruce Lee and others in the movies. His parents hunted down the local school which was the nearby “American Karate” owned by Dennis and Sharon Tosten, whose young instructors Justin Smith and Mark Russo become his mentors. The school franchised to become the Amerikick Karate Systems with Russo starting his own school as well as Perdunn’s own parents running one. After being an avid basketball, soccer and baseball player. Perdunn found karate competition to be his favorite, especially after taking fourth place in Las Vegas in 1996 in his first blackbelt national competition. He miraculously went on to win his first world title that year in the 12 to 13 year old sparring division at Super Grands VIII in Colorado Springs.

Now with five titles neatly tucked under his belt his goals include a desire to compete at more foreign tournaments and to top Adrian Ulanoff’s record of 20 world title wins. Will he do that…? Could be since he plans to make owning and operating his own school his career.


July 2022 Newsletter

Check out July’s upcoming events!


June 2022 Newsletter

Check out June’s upcoming events!

Black Belt Essay

A Black Belt Essay

What I have learned since receiving my Amerikick Black Belt

By Billy Preston 

Ever since I got my black belt, I have learned a ton of new and fun things! When I went to my first Black Belt class, I learned my previous training was to prepare me to start to really learn Karate. I also learned that it was going to be up to me to put more work in to learn the new techniques and prepare for my Senior Black Belt. 

If I had to choose one of the new techniques I learned as my favorite I would choose Twisting Dragon, because I think it is unique that the good guy is the one attacking the bad guy and because I like to do tricks and it feels like a funky cartwheel while doing it. For me, the hardest technique I have learned is Tiger Stretch because it was hard to remember what moves come next in each part. The easiest technique for me to learn was Reverse Hammer Lock because I think it has the least number of moves and the moves are basic. I think the hardest skill I have learned in my whole Karate career is a Falcon Kick from my last test. I think my favorite black belt kata is Short 2 because all the steps and moves are easy but not too easy like short 1 and long 1. 

After I got my Junior Black Belt, I started to help out with the younger kids in class.  I think my favorite part of being a Black Belt is helping out because not only do you get to learn people’s names and make friends, but I also get to help the younger kids get to where I am today! 

We had to rebuild our Black Belt Demo Team after senior members became too old to be on the team. I am now one of five remaining members from our old team and am considered one of the leaders on the new team.  This is both exciting and a bit scary because the new kids on the team look up to us now as leaders. I have made a lot of new friends on the team though. I love to come every week to learn new amazing things on the demo team and in class! Sensei Jamel’s Tricks class is probably my favorite because I am good at doing tricks and I am starting to be able to perform more advanced tricks in my creative katas.  On some nights I would be the only one to show up for class.  Those nights were fun because Sensei Nick would help me with my Back Tucks! I also have fun learning Arnis Sticks with Sensei Pete and going to special Arnis classes with Grandmaster Dennis Tosten. I’ve just started learning Jiu Jitsu with Sensei Tyler too.

I had an amazing tournament season as a Black Belt last year.  I could not believe that I finished as the top overall Black Belt in the Amerikick Karate League. I got to meet Mason StowelI at the Amerikick Internationals. My least favorite part of the season were the virtual tournaments because I had to perform each of my katas 3 or 4 times for the camera to get them perfect instead of doing them once at the in-person tournaments.  Boy was I glad when we finally went back to the in-person tournaments! 

I think being Black Belt is my favorite belt so far because I get to be the leader for more things now. In class I have had a ton of fun challenges that I had to accomplish. All my Senseis have made sure I have had fun learning my senior belt techniques and Katas and have helped me so much along the way.  I also have to thank my Mom and Dad and my brother, Sensei Bobby, for helping me get to where I am now. So far, my journey in Karate has been extremely fun and extraordinary and I can’t wait for more!

Sensei Billy’s Black Belt poster

May 2022 Newsletter

  1. May 2nd Summer Uniforms can be worn in classes! Must be Amerikick T-Shirt & Amerikick Shorts.
  2. 10th – Bring A Buddy AKX Fitness Kickboxing Class @ 7:15pm
  3. 14th- Belt Graduation at 12:00pm! 
  4. 20th – Star Wars, Dodgeball, Ninja Warrior, Nerf Wars, Pizza Night! 6:30pm – 9:00pm $30 per person $25 BBC & MC Members!
  5. Closed Sat-Mon for Memorial Weekend
Martial Arts

Meet Sensei Pete

Hi everyone, my name is Pete or Sensei Pete.  Just want to let you know how I started at the Amerikick Delran Team.  I am a father of two: I have a daughter Arianna (21yrs) and a son Anthony (18yrs), you may have seen him around.  Anthony had already been attending Amerikick karate, at the age of 5, and there was a special father’s day membership promotion, so I decided to attend a karate class.  My level of activity had declined and I wanted to get back into some kind of physical training.  It beat sitting on the couch eating snacks and waiting for bedtime by 100 miles, God bless my wife, Diane. 

During my time with the Amerikick Delran family, I was an active member of the community at the time.  Coaching or helping coach in the Delran athletic association and being the Den leader/Cubmaster for cub scout Pack 25.  

I had earned my karate first and second degree black belt under Sensei Nick, which opened the door to many other martial arts learning opportunities.  Arnis and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) have also become training passions, both available within Amerikick.  

Arnis, also called Eskrima, Kali, Garrote, or fighting sticks, has been very enjoyable to learn and teach.  Amerikick introduces the art during the first degree black belt journey, but that was not enough for me.  So, I continued my training with none other than Grandmaster Dennis Tosten, founder of Amerikick, and earned my Lakan (equivalent to a Black Belt).

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or BJJ has been another branch in the martial arts tree.  I have the opportunity to learn and train with some excellent martial artists within the Amerikick Delran team: Sensei Tyler and Sensei Jamel.  My BJJ journey currently has me at a purple belt level under Sensei Nick and Coach Rick Migliarese.  Every single member within the BJJ program keeps me on my toes and makes me earn the purple belt every training session.

So, in addition to my martial arts passion, I have a bachelors in Mechanical engineering from NJIT and work full time at a company close by that designs and builds automated laboratory robotics equipment for the pharmaceutical industry.  

I would also like to mention that every experience I have had at AmeriKick has resulted in a camaraderie.