Sauquoit – On Thursday, October 22nd, Jenna Salvatore, a 15 year old sophomore at Sauquoit Valley High School, achieved something less than 2% of all Karate students achieve, the coveted Black Belt.
In front of about 40 students, coaches, family members and friends, Salvatore successfully performed a rigorous series of “Katas” prior to a very moving ceremony where she received a framed diploma and her personalized Black Belt. Those Katas included fending off attacks from virtually all of her fellow students and instructors, as well as a sparring session with her Sensei, Tom Rudnitski, owner of The Karate Academy of Central NY, prior to receiving her latest and most precious belt.
Jenna, the daughter of Andy and Karla Salvatore of Sauquoit, began her quest for Black Belt status 5 years ago, at the age of 10, as a different sport to try. “One of my friends told me about this, so I decided to try it. I didn’t really like any other sports too much and from the first night of Karate, I knew I wanted to become a Black Belt and here I am” a very proud Salvatore told Mid York Sports Report, with an ear to ear smile.
The road to Jenna’s success wasn’t an easy one, by any means. For the past 5 years she has committed multiple hours per week in the Dojo and at home learning and practicing her Karate. While the sport is physically demanding, the rewards are enormous. “It’s tough, but it is really a lot of fun” Salvatore said following her difficult series of Katas. “Once you get going and reach a certain belt, you want to keep going to get the next one” she said.
Rudnitski, a 5th Degree Black Belt himself, has been operating The Karate Academy of Central NY for over 22 years and is very impressed with Jenna’s overall development, both in and out of the “Dojo” (a gym where Karate is practiced). “Oh, the progress this young lady has made is incredible, to attain what she has in just 5 years of study is almost unheard of” Rudnitski explained, adding “it’s a testament not only to her personal commitment but also the support she receives from her family, I am extremely proud of her”.
To reach the first (of ten) Black Belt “Degrees” that Jenna Salvatore received on Thursday, she had to achieve 9 other colored belts and their respective degrees, from when she began in 2010. “Kids have so many things going on today, most stop their ascent somewhere in the middle” Tom Rudnitski told MYSR, pointing to a board with all belt colors represented. “Jenna has shown an uncommon desire, especially for kid her age, to set and reach such a high goal”.
The biggest surprise to Rudnitski, however, might be Jenna Salvatore’s move toward helping the younger students in the class, explaining “that’s the biggest change that I’ve noticed besides her technical Karate development, her confidence level has risen to the point where she is eager to help the other students get better, that’s amazing”.
Now that Jenna has reached the 1st Degree Black Belt level, which has included training with multiple martial arts weapons, she doesn’t intend to slow down. “Oh I am going to keep going and going, this is my passion and I want to keep advancing and helping the other kids in the program do what I did, they can do it, they just have to believe in themselves” she said.
For those interested in learning Karate, The Karate Academy of Central NY and Tom Rudnitski can be reached by phone at 315-404-1612. Anyone age 5 and up is welcome and there is no fee to try it out at a session. Thanks to Sensei Rudnitski for the hospitality and sharing this great program with The Mid York Sports Report.
Congratulations to Jenna Salvatore and her family on this fantastic achievement and best of luck as you ascend the Degrees of the Black Belt!
If you know of an amateur athlete in Central NY who deserves recognition for a special achievement in his or her sport, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do to help shine the light!