Friday, August 17, 2012

Black Belt Special Powers

Getting a black belt is an odd thing.  You spend years training; sweating, bleeding, pulling muscles, getting bruises and blisters, being disappointed in your technique, being slightly happier with your technique, being disappointed in your technique again, washing uniforms in special laundry loads, and buying ice packs, ibuprofen and sports tape by the truck load.  But no one is ever impressed with what leads up to a black belt.  They just hear you are a yellow belt, or a blue belt or red-black belt and say, "Oh, that's nice...when are you getting your black belt?"  

I understand that a lot of most people do not know anything about martial arts.  Most people, if asked, will know these things about martial arts: 1) Bruce Lee, 2) The Karate Kid movie, 3) Chuck Norris, 4) You break boards and 5) Black belts are the top of the pyramid.  And any time you mention that you do martial arts they automatically assume it is Karate because of #2 or Kung Fu because of #1.  Thanks, Daniel-son. 

All that being said, what do you mean, "When am I getting my black belt?"  It's not the belt that matters!  Ok, yes, the belt is sweet, it has certain bragging rights because there is a expectation of coolness that comes with it, it's a reminder of how hard you worked to get it, but the belt itself does not give you super powers.
On the day you first wear it you are not suddenly a better martial artist.  You can't spontaneously do the Van Damme splits, jumping spin heels like Chuck Norris or turn invisible like a Ninja.  It doesn't work like that (although it would super cool if it did!).  You are no better the day you get your black belt then the day before you got your black belt.

You know what getting a black belt means?  More training.  Why?  Because you are never going to be perfect.  Never.  No matter how many years you train, buckets of sweat you drip or black belt degrees you have.  You. Will. Never. Be. Perfect.  That doesn't mean you won't get better or that you shouldn't try.  It's the striving for perfection that pushes us.

Anyone who is training for the right reasons isn't training for a belt color.   You could just as easily show up for class in yoga pants and a tank top and the training is just as valid if your mind is in the right place. 

As my Hapkido Master says, "You will never be perfect...and that should be freeing!"

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