It has been a while since I had a true rant in one of my posts even though the title of my blog is “Master Elmore’s Martial Arts Rants”. I will try not to rant too much while still providing some useful insight and information on being a black belt.
In just about every karate school, there is a sign somewhere that says, “My goal is black belt”. Look at most advertisements for a martial arts school and chances are you’ll find a statement like, “This is a black belt school.” Ask any non-black belt student what their goal is and most will tell you, “To be a black belt.”
Now, I am not dismissing the goal of black belt. It is a very worthy and admirable goal. In fact, that is one of the primary reasons we have belts in martial arts, to set goals. It should not be what drives you to keep going.
It is a well-known fact that a large percentage of students quit training within 6 months of getting awarded their black belt. They have set their sights on that one particular goal and once they achieved it, there is nothing left to drive them forward.
Someone who quits training shortly after earning their black belt has a black belt but is not a black belt. I am not trying to downplay the achievement of having a black belt. I am just trying to differentiate from being a black belt. Upon earning a black belt, there is no set time before a student becomes a black belt. A student must now apply what they’ve learned in order to be black belt and not just have one.
Let’s make a couple of comparisons that hopefully drive the point home:
- You get a driver’s license but never drive afterwards. Are you a driver?
- You earn a degree in accounting but work as a farmer your entire life. Are you an accountant?
- You pass the MCAT with flying colors but don’t pursue the medical field any further. Are you a doctor?
Get the idea?
Earning a black belt is not an award to be put up on your mantle. If your goal is to get your black belt then display it in a trophy case, never putting it around your waist, you need to examine why you do martial arts in the first place.
There are many outstanding activities out there where trophies, medals, certificates, and other awards are given out for display purposes. A black belt is not one of those. A black belt is someone who is dedicated to a long-term pursuit of excellence. This includes both technically and philosophically. If you aren’t doing this you simply just have a black belt.