I’ve mentioned before that we have all candidates for 1st degree write an essay, sharing their thoughts on what black belt means to them. Here is karate black belt candidate Miya’s essay–she’ll be testing this week, so encourage her if you see her in class!
“Black Belt: What it Is and What it Takes” by Miya
When I first began training, I envisioned a black belt student as being some sort of super-human ninja with magical zen powers! I thought to myself, “There’s no way I could ever be that, it’s impossible.” However, as I trained and practice alongside these senior students, I began to see that you didn’t need to be a demigod to earn a black belt. I got to really know these students and discovered, they were just regular people. They had jobs and responsibilities outside the dojo, they got tired, and sad, and even mad from time to time. They also had regular problems that they had to deal with, just like you or me. They weren’t ninja master’s who spent every hour of everyday training in the mountains like I first thought they did. For the first time, a black belt actually seemed attainable.
Since coming to this realization that earning a black belt was actually possible, this standard of achievement has risen. Over the past 18 months, I really got to know and understand a few specific black belts from my dojo that I had idolized as hero’s from the start. I believed for so long that a black belt was someone who mastered just the physical part of a fighting style. But after getting to know these people, my horizons expanded. Sure their physical stature was impressive, but they also were nice, humble, down to earth people. Their black belt attitude didn’t stop at the dojo, they worked hard at school or at their jobs, they respected themselves and others around them and they had genuine morals in their hearts. Their training didn’t stop either, they strived to perfect their technique and abilities. Learning didn’t end at black belt, you were constantly gaining new knowledge and perfecting what you already knew. Black belt wasn’t an end, it was a beginning. This new discovery raised my standard of a black belt sky high again. However, instead of overwhelming me like it would have in the beginning, it made me want to face this challenge and achieve it even more.
I always knew it would take a lot of physical and mental strength to achieve this goal but I had never stopped to consider the spiritual aspect. (for the longest time, I thought the spiritual side was just scented candles, meditating and chinese chi magic). Don’t get me wrong, a black belt does need to be in good physical condition and be very intelligent but spirit is also needed to complete the triad. I believe someone with a strong spirit is: respectful to one’s self and others, humble in their abilities, strong willed and shows compassion and mercy even if those around them don’t deserve it. In a nutshell, three key components needed for the rank of black belt are, being physically able to take on any challenge, having intelligence to solve problems and avoid conflict, and lastly being spiritually sound in your heart to guide you on the right path.
Many people have shared with me their view of what a black belt is: a master of basics, a student striving for perfection, an attitude you gain not a belt you wear, a white belt that never quits. All of these are terrific definitions, spoken by masters and teachers far wiser than I and I very much agree with their wise words. However this is my essay about what being a black belt means to me and only me. Other people have greatly influenced my thoughts and beliefs on this subject but, simply to me, a black belt is someone who is driven by the internal motivation to always be the best that they can be. And with this burning desire inside, they can always achieve what they set out to accomplish.
-Miya, June 2013