I recently asked my black belt club members to write an essay entitled “what black belt means to me”. Reading what my students had to say prompted me to sit down and collect my own thoughts on the subject. I was pleasantly surprised with what my students had to say. Many felt that a black belt was not just something you wore around your waist, but instead a state of mind. Several students commented on how hard it would be to earn a black belt and that it was this challenge that made black belt something worth having. Others commented on how the attributes attained along the way to black belt such as character, self-control, and discipline are what go into making someone a black belt.
In order to understand what it means to be a black belt, one must first understand the journey to becoming a black belt. It is a journey that can be quite long and difficult at times yet very rewarding. In most schools students progress through several colored belts, each one a rung on the ladder to black belt. It is by working to achieve each new rank that students learn to set goals and develop the discipline and focus along with many other attributes that go into making a black belt. Developing this mindset is not something that happens overnight. It is a transformation that takes many years of hard work and dedication.
Martial arts is not simply a means of self-defense, but also a way of life. It is a state of mind that unfolds over the course of ones journey to becoming a black belt. Most students beginning this journey are seeking to receive a black belt. It is when they realize that a black belt is not something you earn, but something you become that they will truly understand what it means to be a black belt.