80-year-old earns black belt at Redford Karate

Hometown Life Published 12:55 p.m. ET March 24, 2017
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Never say never! Just when you think your dream may have flown away, something can happen to make your dream a reality. Charles Dawson, 80, thought his dream of becoming a black belt in Korean tang soo do had just kicked its way down the road and out of his life.

“Grandpa” to the other students at Redford Karate School, Dawson has trained faithfully for the last six years to learn his moves. According to his instructor, master Ray Johnson, “Grandpa has done an outstanding job at keeping up with the other students and even teaching them a thing or two!”

Every week, Dawson has attended class, sometimes two or three times a week, depending on his health and doctor recommendations. His loyalty to the martial art never wavered. Many times he would need to ask for a ride to and from the do jang, but that never stopped him. The push-ups, sit-ups, running laps, kicks and punches were never a road block to him. Grandpa never quit!

Johnson realized that even though Dawson’s doctors had finally said that he could not train any longer due to his health, there still must be something that could be done for him. That’s when Johnson approached his own instructor, grand master Chun Sik Kim, president and founder of the International Tang Soo Do Federation, the organization that Redford Karate School belongs to.

After much discussion and reviewing all of the training and belt rank testing that Dawson had completed, Kim agreed that indeed this 80-year-old student had earned an honorary black belt from the International Tang Soo Do Federation. This was groundbreaking, because this was something that had never been bestowed upon a student in the 50-plus years of the federation. This was a first, not only in Michigan, but across the globe.

At the recent belt rank promotion ceremony held at Redford Karate School, this honorary black belt certification was a grand surprise and had many students and audience members in tears. This special certification had been kept a secret from everyone, including Dawson and his family. Grandpa thought he was attending the ceremony to see his granddaughter be promoted to her next rank. When Dawson and his wife heard his name called to come up on stage, they had no idea what was going on.

Dawson, very humbly, accepted his honorary black belt certificate with a tear in his eye. His dream had finally come true. He was finally a black belt. Dawson knows that hard work and determination pays off, even when you have to obey doctor’s orders.