Black Belt Essay: What It Is and What It Takes by Kassidi

Kassidi is a provisional black belt candidate for 1st degree. Here’s her black belt essay on what it means to be(come) a black belt. Through her training, Kassidi has learned how to be persistent. Her black belt essay reveals a little of what it’s taken for her to make the long journey to black belt.

Although she mentions making mistakes, tough times, & getting knocked down, she also emphasizes that black belts respond by getting back up and handling the negative with grace, self-control, and perseverance.

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Here’s Kassidi working with some of our intermediate students!

“Black Belt: What It Is and What It Takes” by Kassidi

“The black belt around my waist does not represent who I am. It represents who I can be.”

My journey to black belt was not an easy one.

A black belt is simply a white belt that refused to give up; I was one of those white belts. My best friend was the reason I started martial arts because she inspired me to follow my dreams of becoming a martial artist and she had always pushed me into being better each and every day.

These five years have taught me a life-long lesson I will cherish forever; Patience, Integrity, Perseverance, and Respect. Patience because great things don’t happen overnight. They take time to grow and develop into something amazing. Integrity because just saying you’ll do something isn’t as fulfilling as actually doing it! Perseverance because no matter how many times I wanted to give up, I didn’t. And now look at where I am at. Remember perseverance is a decision. Respect because in order to respect your family, your elders, your school/dojo, and your classmates, you must first respect yourself. I always asked myself, will it be easy? I used to think it might have been but the answer will always be no. No, it will not be easy. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.

Black belt is a rank that shows high achievement as well as dedication. A black belt to me is someone who is committed to their training. They have passion for their chosen art. They are someone who knows how to hurt you but choose not to because it’s not something they are trained to do. Black belts make mistakes just as much any other belt rank would. But it’s how they handle those mistakes that really makes them different from everyone else.

It doesn’t only take determination to be a black belt, but it takes self-control. A black belt shouldn’t brag about their rank. They use self-restraint to prevent themselves from showing off or going too hard on a lower belt. Being a black belt means that when you get knocked down, you make the decision to get back up. It means you make the decision to keep trying even though you didn’t quite make it the first time.

Being a black belt doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know, it means that from what you’ve learned, should have made you realize that you still have more to learn. Something that I have learned over the years is that the master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried. Even if you’ve mastered something, did you actually master it?

Acting like a black belt means you can’t be moderate. A black belt has to actually look like a black belt, going above and beyond the standards, always giving their 100% effort when able. A black belt should have good concentration no matter what they are practicing, whether it’s form, kicks, form basics or fighting combinations. Black belts should spend a good deal of time practicing because there are always things they can improve.

Being a black belt, you should be open to trying new styles of martial arts to broaden your knowledge. One thing I’ve learned about martial arts is that practice doesn’t make perfect but perfect practice makes perfect. To get to black belt, it takes years of hard work and years of sweat (ew!), countless bumps and bruises, many mistakes but many successes. All black belts should seek constant improvement. Achievement of rank should be considered a side-effect of training rather than a goal.

A black belt should always be willing to help the lower belts because black belts are the ones everyone looks up to as an influence. I believe it is a black belts duty to want to help others succeed in their quest in achieving black belt. Being a black belt takes a person willing admit their faults and are willing to get up and try again until they get it right.

To me, martial arts isn’t about fighting; it’s about building character.

About Sensei/YDN Caitlin

Sensei Yudanjanim Caitlin is a 2nd degree black belt, senior instructor, administrative assistant, and student of Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Arnis at Northwest School of Martial Arts.
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