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!

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“What You Do, You Become:” My Teaching Philosophy by Sensei/YDN Caitlin

Sensei/YDN Caitlin doing her form at a tournament.

Sensei/YDN Caitlin doing her form at a tournament.

Good teaching requires intention. Really, that’s not so different from what is required to be truly good at martial arts.

But there’s so much more to martial arts than kicking and punching. (And I know you’ve heard that before, so let me explain!)

My name is Caitlin. At NWSMA, I’m known as Sensei Caitlin. I’ve been teaching martial arts for nearly as long as I’ve been doing them. At the time of the writing, that’s about 15 ½ years.

I believe that the word “skills” covers more than just kicking, blocking, and punching. More than sparring or forms. Interpersonal skills, or lifeskills, like how to get along with classmates, how to resolve conflicts, and how to talk to adults are among some of the many skills children learn as they grow up.

To be successful in life, ALL children must learn these lifeskills. The skills include: how to focus, how to Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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

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Shawna in her provisional black belt. Aiming for 1st degree!

Shawna is a provisional black belt candidate for 1st degree. Here’s her black belt essay! I love how she talks about what a black belt DOES, how they interact with others and how they treat their own goals.

Kindness, awareness, respect, and persistence–check out Shawna’s essay after the jump to find out what she really thinks it means to be a black belt!!

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Top Instructor Do’s and Don’ts from NWSMA Black Belts

Black belts

A bit of introduction here: NWSMA holds a “black belts only” class once a month. We split the class time between practicing advanced material and talking about what it means to be a black belt and an instructor.

They are assigned a reading the week before class, and this month I gave them an excellent piece from Black Belt Magazine, titled, “How Karate Sensei Can Avoid Mixed Messages in the Dojo.

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

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.

1st place sparring!

1st place sparring as an advanced brown belt!

“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).

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Black Belt: What It Is and What It Takes by Nathan

Nathan is a provisional black belt candidate for 1st degree. Here’s his black belt essay, exploring what black belt means to him.

I really love this essay, and I love that Nathan is such a strong example for his kids and for other students in our school. I took the liberty of highlighting a couple quotes that really resonated with me. Enjoy!

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Nathan with two of his three kids.

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

The goal of reaching black belt has been no small task and one that NWSMA does not take lightly. For this, I am grateful. I feel to wear a black belt, it should mean something both to the wearer of the belt and to those around them. A black belt should never be a stop along one’s path in life, but rather a continuous road in itself, a life long attitude of learning, humility and challenge.

The training at NWSMA has been just this. It has been intense, focused and very, very fruitful to me personally. I have gained so much understanding, strength, and growth from my time with them both in the martial arts and outside it, that it’s hard to describe concisely all the benefits. However, what black belt truly means for me, now, is the same as what it meant to me when I started this journey about 5 years ago with my children. Black belt, to me, means family.

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6 Things Black Belt Candidates Should Be Doing

When I look at a black belt candidate–a high-ranked student who is getting close to black belt–I usually rely on a gut feeling to tell me whether or not they’re ready for black belt.

By black belt, I mean 1st degree. Provisional black belts are not yet black belts, they are on probation and have to prove themselves worthy of that rank. By “candidates” I mean everyone from brown belt to provisional black belt–people who aren’t yet there but are trying to get there.

The demo team bows after their performance.

The demo team bows after their performance.

Today, instead of relying on my gut, I want to try to articulate some of the things I’m looking for in black belt candidates: all brown, advanced brown, and provisional black belts.

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Black Belt: What It Is and What It Takes by Caitlin

Caitlin (who is different from the site author) is a provisional black belt candidate for 1st degree. She and her younger sister have been with NWSMA for about a decade. Here is her essay about what it means to become a black belt!

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Black belt candidate Caitlin smiles for the camera!

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

When you think of a black belt, what is it that you think of?  Well if you’re like most people, you think of a black belt as someone who, obviously, wears a black belt and is good at martial arts.  If you’ve watched movies with people like Bruce Lee in them, you even have a visual.  These things all are parts of what a black belt does and wears, even what they can sometimes become, but not what they are.

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Black Belt: What It Is and What It Takes by Andrew

Andrew is a provisional black belt candidate for 1st degree, but has also received his black belt in Arnis. Here is his essay on what it means to be a black belt!

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Andrew with his brand new Arnis black belt!

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

I first went to Tae-Kwon-Do in September 2010. My parents took me there so I could get prepared for hockey. They wanted me to practice Tae-Kwon-Do so I could get prepared for hard hits and the roughness that hockey is known for. I did not know anything about Tae-Kwon-Do. The only martial arts, like Karate, I ever saw was from watching it on TV or at the movie. So when I started I loved the different forms and moves, and the fact I could protect myself. I also started to practice Arnis and loved the weapons forms, and stick manipulation. So I quit hockey and started practicing more Tae Kwon Do and Arnis.

A black belt to me is just not something that holds your pants up. It is a belt that shows you have respect, honor, courage, and integrity. All of these gave me strength to pursue and challenge my fears. Now I can face and conquer them.

I’m grateful for what I’ve learned. I thank all the people that have helped me get to where I am now.

Tae-Kwon-Do is now part of my life. It will always be in my heart. Tae-Kwon-Do has taught me to take on challenges like school work, chores my Mom and Dad give me, as well as everyday living and to face it head on and not fear it but accept it.

Being a black belt is hard, but it is great being one. It is great helping others. Other students give you respect for being a black belt. You also have to give them respect too. Always encourage others to keep going. Like I said being a black belt is hard, but it’s also great being one.

I have been in Tae-Kwon-Do for 2 to 3 years. There have been times I wanted to quit. It was so hard or because I hated it. The reason mostly was it was getting boring to me same exercises over and over, repetivness, not realizing I was honing my skills to become better, stronger and faster. Now that I have my provisional black belt, I just want to keep going.

What does it take to be a black belt? You need to have respect for others. You need to honor your family, friends, and others. But what does it really take? Never giving up, never quitting what you are doing. Most importantly all the other challenges life gives you.

I would like to thank Kio-Bi-Nim Chris Apprecio for teaching me what I need to do to be where I am now. I would like to thank my family and friends for encouraging me to keep going on. I would also like to thank other instructors passing what they have learned down to me, my instructors, and everyone else.