The benefit of earning a Black Belt in the martial arts is not in the achievement of it but in the journey toward it.
You see, while getting your Black Belt is an awesome experience, it is the Commitment, Dedication and Perseverance you showed along the way that makes it awesome.
In our instant gratification culture we are losing the character value of sticking with something and not giving up until we reach our goal. Things are too easy, everything is available instantly! And as soon as something becomes difficult or inconvenient we tend to move on to the next shiny new thing that captures our attention. But the martial arts journey is one of skill mastery for self mastery. It is an endeavor in self improvement and that does not come easily; it happens over time. It is not about learning the techniques and forms. These are tools for the real purpose of learning about our selves. And this is a process of coming to class week after week, year after year and practicing for hours on end to do what…EARN your Black Belt.
Here is an exercise for you…I want you to take a moment and really do this! Imagine a martial artist in your mind. They are in their uniform and running their moves. They are moving with grace and speed; hitting with power and intensity. They are harnessing the power of their body, mind and spirit and putting everything they have into their techniques. Before you read on take a moment, close your eyes and really imagine this….
Now answer this question…What color belt were they wearing? (Hmmmm…..)
You see, Black Belt is what we think when we imagine that in our minds. It is the image we see when we even hear the word martial arts. Not Orange, Purple, Green or even Brown…but BLACK! Why? Because that is the goal. It is the ultimate achievement because there are no more colors after that.
Here is a conversation I have had many times over the years when someone finds out I am a martial artist…
Person: “Oh yeah, I used to do karate.”
Me: “Oh cool! Are you a Black Belt?”
Person: “No, I got to (color belt) but I didn’t stick with it.”
Me: “Oh no, how come?”
Person: “Oh, because…(list of excuses)”
Me: “Ah…” and then the conversation stalls.
This NEVER happens…
Person: “But ya know what, I am glad I quit.”
This happens quite often…
Person: “Yeah, and I wish I would have stuck with it.”
I usually continue with an encouragement for them to get back into it and get Black Belt because there is ALWAYS a tone of regret in their voice. I have never met anyone who was happy they quit something before reaching their goal.
Now any true martial arts Instructor knows that Black Belt is just the beginning of the student’s education…but that is a topic for another post. The idea here is to get it in our minds that we will not give up on our goal of earning Black Belt…no matter what.
Commitment, Dedication and Perseverance. These are the qualities we develop along the path. These are the qualities that we forge on the mat BUT that carry over into our lives off the mat.
Commitment allows us to Believe we can do something
Dedication allows us to Achieve it
Perseverance allows us to Succeed along the way