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

black belt essay

Tyler receiving his advanced brown belt in 2015.

Here is a black belt essay from Tyler! Tyler is an adult provisional black belt candidate for 1st degree in taekwondo. In this essay, he talks about how different martial arts training was from his childhood ideals. He also talks about the importance of persevering in the face of his own limitations, and looking for the deeper meaning in his martial arts training–love it!

Check out Tyler’s black belt essay after the jump to find out what he really thinks it’s all about!

Black Belt: What it is and What it Takes by Tyler

What does being a Black Belt mean to me?

Reflecting on my childhood I remember watching martial artists (in their acting roles) and thinking they were invincible.  People such as David Carradine, Chuck Norris, or Bruce Lee.  They all portrayed that a black belt was unstoppable even in the direst of situations.  And as a child, I believed it was true.  However, suffering my own fair share of bumps and bruises on my way to becoming a black belt, I now know that a black belt is not unstoppable, but rather someone who just did not stop.

Never practicing martial arts as a kid, I became a white belt as an adult following in the footsteps of my son.  Several years have passed since first tying my white belt and I have come to realize that for me a black belt means perseverance.  Merriam-Webster defines perseverance as “the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult”.  Throughout training for a black belt everyone is presented multiple times with difficult training tasks.  When those tasks are presented, trainees are also faced with a choice to quit.  A black belt is someone who chooses to keep going – to persevere.

Anyone that has trained with me has probably noticed that I have some physical limitation, primarily with flexibility in my hips, and legs… really everywhere.  Having physical limitations is frustrating, not being able kick as high as I “should” or having the length in my stances, these could have been easy excuses to quit.  Continuing to press on is both a physical activity as well as a mental one.

Physically it is easy to let limitations dictate your training.  It is convenient to let a limitations keep me from continuing to try.  Trying to stretch my stances.  Trying to kick a bit higher.  Trying to improve on technique.  Training to become a black belt has taught me that even if I can’t kick head height with a roundhouse kick, that it not an excuse for having incorrect technique with my roundhouse kick.  You see, having physical limitations is normal, not allowing them to hold you back takes mental determination.  Being a black belt is both physically and mentally demanding.

In closing, I feel like asking a provisional black belt what it means to be a black belt is a bit like asking a teenager what they want to be when they grow up.  They have seen certain jobs, but really lack life experience to know what a particular job is really like.  Same is true for a provisional black belt.  Up to achieving your black belt it is easy to focus on memorizing forms, form basics, and kicks, but that is not really what a black belt is.  There is more to martial arts than that, and reaching provisional black belt is just the start of that understanding.  Since I have limited experience it limits what I think martial arts is about, so now I’m working on understanding what it is really about.

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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