Getting to Black Belt

word of month character

The following is a message I received from my instructor about belt testing and black belts. Going from one rank to the next is not based on how much time did I put in or am I a nice person. It is based on physical ability, attitude (am I willing to put in the time and effort) and then of course all of the intangibles( am i living my life to be my best? am I giving back to my martial arts community and to the world?)
Often times whether we are 5 years old, a teenager or an adult the “getting the belt” or the “color of the belt” is the biggest hindrance we have. The harder we try to attain this “belt” the more time it takes. In martial arts as in many things in life, when we work hard and enjoy the journey the results come faster or at the very least seem to come faster. So here are the thoughts of my instructor;
I think we should stop giving black belts to kids. Junior black belts, yes. “black belts,” no.
Give them something to work on.

Second, I think we should stop giving black belts, period…that is except to those
people who put forth the most steady, committed, long-term-practice effort.

No more 2.5 or 3 year black belts…BJJ shames us. You get a black belt in BJJ
and you’re one bad-bad-bad athlete. Get a black belt in most tkd and kenpo schools
and you’d be lucky to punch your way out of a wet paper bag.

Of course I’m not talking about YOUR school…I mean industry wide, in general.
We should NOT sell “black belt courses” –we should make brown or red what black used
to be. Black belt rank should go to people who have, literally, put in 100’s and/or 1000’s
of hours of consistent, skill-building practice.

The industry has, in general, diluted the rank of black belt to mean so very little…and
we have, in many cases (me included) set or standards so very low.

We should adopt the BJJ 5 to 8 year black belt —and make the darn thing MEAN something
again. I have had some black belt kids join my school lately that are about yellow belt level
‘and I wonder why? Why do this and when did it become ok?

We should all start a movement to make it all mean something again…REAL skill, real
experience…and nobody gets a black belt for “putting in the time’ or because the bought something.

Tom

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