What A Black Belt Means To Me – A Way Of Life

What A Black Belt Means To Me – A Way Of Life

Being a black belt is more than just another rank in the martial arts. It’s a milestone that every martial artist strives for but only a small percentage actually achieve. Obtaining a black belt or equivalent ranking in any art takes a lot of dedication and perseverance. The journey appears never ending as a kyu rank (under belt), but once you reach that stage its an amazing achievement. When I was 13 years old I passed my Sho Dan test. I can remember sleeping with my belt practically every night. No joke. I would take it everywhere – the folks and I are going to the store, my belt came along. Spending the night at a friend’s house, my belt came along.

What I didn’t realize though, is there comes a great deal of responsibility by being a black belt. I don’t believe one recognizes this until they have been a Yudansha (black belt) for a few years. It probably didn’t hit me until I was a full time instructor, and more when I stepped away from teaching. Students look up to us. We are what they want to be when they grow up. Remember when you were a child and you had a favorite athlete and when you played that particular sport you were always them. That’s what a black belt resembles. Students watch every move we make and duplicate them almost to a ‘T’. We are roll models to them and their families. I accept that. I would rather make a positive impact in a young martial artists life then see them throw their life away. I would rather inspire a self-doubted child, than see him struggle with confidence issues throughout his childhood and into his teenage years.

So what does a black belt mean to me? A way of life. I pay more attention to the path, and not the pinnacle of the art because in reality, there is no pinnacle. It is a journey that will never end. And now that I am in the process of opening my own dojo, being a San Dan has more meaning than before. I wan to make sure I am the best martial artist I can be in order for my future students to learn the beauty of Wado-Ryu.

Our instructors, and their instructors, and their instructor’s instructor were taught certain ways to carry themselves and expectations of being a black belt. Whether it be physically, mentally, or socially. This has been passed down to us and it is our duty to continue to pass this “unwritten rule” on to future generations of martial artists. Why? It’s tradition. It’s the martial way. We are the leaders of our dojo.

Now that you know what a black belt means to me, I challenge you to find out what a black belt means to you.

You can also read about my Journey to become a blackbelt by going to www.ExperienceMartialArts.com and clicking on the “Learn” tab.