Live like

a Black Belt

What is a Black Belt?

A Black Belt is not just an ebony obi that you earn, it is what you become by being rendered by the art and all that it does for you.



A Black Belt respects the hierarchy of Karate and shows respect to both those above him and those below him. If you do not show respect you cannot receive it.


This is a key component of learning, without out it you are too full of yourself to absorb new knowledge.


A Black Belt is just a white belt who never gave up.


A Black Belt should be loyal to their classmates, their dojo and their instructors.

Courage is not the absence of fear but the transcendence of it.

Fear is simply your body’s way of alerting you to danger. Adrenaline actually comes in three flavors- fight, flight and freeze. The best course of action depends on your circumstances and surroundings.

Fearlessness is a synonym for foolhardiness. A student of mine who had been an Airborne Ranger in Vietnam told me “You never want to go on a mission with someone who doesn’t know the meaning of fear. They’ll blow a lot of people away that they don’t need to and probably won’t complete the mission. Good training allows you to confront danger calmly and react with grace under pressure

A situation that is foreign to the untrained (violence) is familiar territory for the martial arts. Deeply ingrained muscle memory takes over and you do what needs to be done. The actions will seem to flow from you on their own and only afterward will you realize the danger that you have lived through. Then, as your hand trembles. You can afford to feel fear.

“Where does courage come from? You take a deep breath and face what you are afraid of.”

– Grandmaster J. Pat Burleson

10th Degree Blackbelt (Grandmaster)

Tom Downs

Tom Downs, 10th Degree Black Belt and Texas Martial Arts Hall of Famer, has been involved in the Martial Arts for forty-seven years. Recently promoted to the title of Grandmaster in December 2023, Tom Downs was the previous owner, operator and head instructor of Texas Karate Institute.  He was also a faculty member of Texas Tech University for twenty-two years where he taught Martial Arts, Self-Defense, and Kick Boxing.

Downs has instructed and coached Regional, State, National, and World Champions, and is also a Certified Kick Boxing Trainer.

In 2021, Grandmaster Tom Downs retired from his position as the head instructor and operator of Texas Karate Institute and left the running and operation of the business to Master Kathy Gonzales and Master David Liles.