Tell us about a talent, experience, contribution or personal quality you will bring to the University of California. *
As I watch my opponent pace back and forth, I steady myself, appear indifferent, and slow my breathing. Suddenly, he lunges, taking hold of my wrist so that I may not block his punch. I think, “Don’t flinch! You’ve done this one hundred times before… ready… NOW!” Catching my opponent off guard, I lunge in and down. After a quick lift and pivot, it is over, and my opponent lies on his back with a familiar, dazed expression gracing his features. My test for a green belt in Aikido is completed, and I have prevailed. Aikido is one of the foremost defensive martial arts. Instead of butting heads like goats in a contest of sheer strength, one uses the opponent’s own strength against him. Rather than punching an opponent in the face, and possibly breaking one’s knuckles in the process, one merely flows with the opponent’s momentum, twisting their joints to the breaking point. Through Aikido, I have learned self-discipline, mental toughness, determination, and, most importantly, self-confidence. It is these characteristics that I will bring to the University of California, where they shall aid me in all my endeavors towards academic accomplishment. Self-discipline is an important characteristic to acquire when practicing Aikido. Each hold and technique is practiced up to the point of stretching the joints, but never beyond. Aikido helped me learn not to pay attention to the small distractions (the guy holding your hand, hitting at your face, grabbing your leg) and to instead pay full attention to completing my goals. Needless to say, these teachings are invaluable both literally and metaphorically in the real world. With this newfound self-discipline, I will not be bothered by the small distractions (the student with “the sniffles” on test day, the student tapping a pen on the table, the class clown whispering to you as you try to pay attention) and instead will work toward succeeding at whatever I put myself up against (mid-terms, finals, preparing for a career in the real world, and everything in between). Self-discipline allows me to concentrate on the task at hand. I attacked my recent AP exams with such self-discipline, and I surprised myself by achieving a “5” in AP BIO! I can stoke up the fires of my determination to an astounding blaze, but also, I can curb these fires into a controlled burn and not start a forest fire. Achieving success in mathematics has been a hard won goal, and required significant self-discipline and determination. I recently improved my Math II SAT score significantly, and I am currently carrying an A+ in my Calculus AP class. I have never been a physically imposing person, and in my younger years I was sometimes a victim of bullies. I always thought I would be at the stronger people’s mercy, until I found Aikido. The confidence I’ve learned helps me stand up for myself in physical and academic situations. This year I led my drama group in developing and performing a play. I was faced with many challenges as their leader, but eventually all seven teenagers agreed on a script and executed it flawlessly. It is with this confidence that I plan to storm the hallways, conquer my classes, and reign supreme over my own life, in the present, and in the future. I will bring confidence, determination, and self-discipline, to the University of California, and will carry these lessons and ideals throughout my life.