Jasmine is a provisional black belt candidate for 1st degree. Here’s her black belt essay, which tells the story of how she got interested in martial arts and how much she’s grown since then.
Jasmine was 12 at the time she wrote this, but she makes some observations that are really quite mature (I’m sure this is not surprising to anyone who knows her and her family). I highlighted a few quotes that I really liked.
“Black Belt: What It Is and What It Takes” by Jasmine
Before I started Tae Kwon Do, I watched the movie “Kung Fu Panda” in a theater. I thought all the tricks and maneuvers the “Furious Five” and “Po” did in the movie were awesome, and I decided I wanted to do Kung Fu. At that point in my life, I was eight, so I also thought that ninja-like abilities were the thing to have.
After the initial inspiration, my parents found a 2-week deal at Trinity Martial Arts in Arlington. At the end of those “nuf”* two weeks, my siblings and I made the decision to stick with it, and later my dad joined too (mom stuck with her yoga). Chris Aprecio, the instructor, made it look like being a black belt meant you could do cool things.
It’s been a long time since then, but now I know that being a black belt doesn’t just mean to have a black belt and be athletic (and that becoming a black belt doesn’t make you a superhero).
Black belt is a rank that shows high martial art achievement, but it’s also a sign that the person wearing it worked very hard. For me, a black belt is also someone that shows a strong passion for martial arts, always tries their best to make their accuracy and power better, and fix their mistakes. Many people that start doing a martial art aspire to earn one, though after a while, some people quit. It takes a lot of time and effort to get there (along with an abundance of sweat), and in my mind, it also takes some mental and physical traits.
Mentally, to be a black belt, you should have a black belt attitude, which can be obtained before earning the rank. Being a black belt means having indomitable spirit, never giving up, because that’s how you get there in the first place. You must be patient, for it takes time to get good at something. NO whining and complaining, and don’t think negative thoughts. You also should respect people. Being a black belt means you need to respect others, otherwise you won’t have their respect, and what kind of black belt would that be?
Physically, acting like a black belt means you can’t be mediocre. A black belt has to actually look like a black belt, going above and beyond the standards, always giving above 100% effort when able. Black belts should practice plenty, because there are always things that can be improved. Should your stances be longer? Can you bob up and down less when moving forward in one? Is that kick at waist level? Being a black belt means you should be able to ask yourself and answer such questions, then take the time to fix your mistakes. Since black belts are always going to be looked up to, they should always set a good example for lower belts. That way future black belts will also have high standards for themselves.
All black belts should strive to do all of these things, so should those who are not black belts. Black belts were all lower belts at some point, and as the instructors at NWSMA say, “A black belt is just a white belt that never quits.”
*In the spirit of a rather silly (yet amusing) NWSMA tradition, Jasmine avoids using the word “fun” in her essay. Because we all know there is no fun in martial arts, only hard work–our students must say “nuf” in class instead of “fun.”