Thursday, September 24, 2009


What makes a black belt? Is it the fabric that just happens to be black or blue? No. It’s a manner of carrying yourself, your comportment. It’s whether you take the time to show a little bit of courtesy to the rest of the people you come into contact with. A black belt is all of these things and more.

A black belt internalizes the teachings of his or her Masters. He or she must learn to give up the ego that plagues most of us. (Having an ego is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does affect your dealings with people.) A black belt truly BECOMES that which he or she embodies.

As a black belt, you represent not only your dojang, but also your history, your founders. You represent yourself as an ambassador. You’re part of a greater whole. It’s a collective. Martial arts has a long history. It’s one that we all represent in many ways. The history of your art, for yes, it IS an art form, is written in the sweat and blood of those who precede you. You may *think* you’re working very hard to earn something, but there are those for whom the challenge has been infinitely harder. The challenge is there for all, but only a few will ever truly embrace being a black belt.

When you test, it’s not just an ending point. It’s a stepping off point, a door is opening to continue to grow and expand. The target, while having been met once, now must be re-met in all that you do. You must decide if you are going to share your knowledge with your fellow students. The Gups will look up to you. Overnight, it seems, your status is changed from being “one of them” to being one of an elite group.

Being a black belt isn’t just “Look! I have a belt!” It’s your actions, ultimately, that define you as a black belt. If you take the time to help out in class, to lead warm ups, for example, you’re embodying what those who have come before you have taught you. If you step up and demonstrate a form or technique incorrectly, you must take the critique of that form or technique. You can’t expect to do something incorrectly and not have people notice. You actually have a spotlight on you, almost as if “black belt” is tattooed to your forehead.

Being a black belt is a mental thing. Any person can have a black belt. Some people truly LIVE as black belts. There is a difference. Those who just have the belt are more likely to be the swaggering type. The people I have met, as an example, embody the spirit of black belt. In my dojang, the people who I train with are working towards improvement daily. They are willing to answer questions and never treat you like you’re asking “stupid” questions. When I came into this dojang, I came in with the idea that I was going to advance my ranks on the same “schedule” that I had been on at my old school. What I had not counted on was the fact that I have to learn to become a black belt. I may have the belt, yes, but it means nothing if I don’t understand WHY I have the belt. It’s not all about the training. The training goes beyond the physical in the dojang (Funakoshi #8–”Do not think that your karate training happens only in the dojang.”)

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I’m taking that step. I want to learn, therefore, I attend classes (intermittently, but that *will* change!). I have found my niche. There is another saying that bears repeating…that is, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.”

Monday, September 07, 2009

Training benefits and values

Being a martial artist, sometimes it is important to step back and think about why you do things. If you've been a martial artist for a long time, it's something that is pretty well customary. If you're a "new" or "young" martial artist (as in, less than ten years into the practice), it helps to periodically look back at things.
I've been going through one of those phases again. It's helping me to redefine myself.

So, here is what I have come up with:

The Benefit of training in Tang Soo Do:

1. Self Discipline
2. Integrity
3. Self Confidence
4. Strength
5. Physical Fitness

The values to training in martial arts are:

1. Integrity-honesty. Winners don't lie. Integrity instills honesty which instills integrity. It's a circle.

2. Self discipline-Not being lazy. You can't say you have "self discipline" if you're avoiding any sort of workout.

3. Self confidence-belief in oneself. Being able to achieve the impossible.

4. Strength--Mental as well as physical. Make your own decisions.

5. Physical Fitness--Physical fitness leads to improved health, being healthy.

This all ties together. You have to have self discipline in order to follow through with your physical fitness, for example. If you are lazy, you don't allow yourself to workout or train, which in turn leads to sloppy martial arts.
When you're physically fit, you'll feel more self confidence. Self confidence allows you to have the fortitude to continue down the path you've chosen.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Absence of workouts...

I haven't been doing anything lately. NO push ups. NO crunches. I just fizzled out. I need to follow what a new friend has recommended and keep an actual physical journal of my workouts. That way I have something I can pull out and say, "I DID do what I was supposed to do on this date." Plus, I need to set a realistic goal or three. I need to get off my duff and re-vitalize myself to doing what I like to do. I'm not afraid of hard work. I just have to actually DO it.

Go read this blog for a good note on incentive. It's well worth it.