Karate is like a video game. Karate is better than video games. (Sorry, gamers). In order to bust a move in karate, you will need to engage in the act of “grinding.”
The students in the picture below are grinding. They don’t realize it, but front stance straight punch is the very definition of grinding for karateka. Isn’t it beautiful?
NWSMA youth class in action!
What does “grinding” mean anyway?
In video/computer gaming culture, “grinding” refers to engaging in repetitive tasks for a purpose, either to attain an item, badge, or to unlock access to certain features. The repetitive tasks are rarely entertaining.
Tl;dr “grinding” means to do the same thing. Again and again, a lot. And it’s not terribly exciting or fun.
Hmmm….this is starting to sound like karate! Click the “more” link to hear about why grinding is important, not just in games!
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.
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.
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!
Miya at a tournament as a green belt.
“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.
Multi-stylists: Each of these pairs contain one Karate and one TKD student. They are doing sticky hands, originally a Kung Fu drill! Credit: Bec Thomas Photography (facebook.com/BecThomasPhotography)
There’s a lot of debate in the martial arts world about which style of martial arts is best. With the surging popularity of UFC and MMA, it’s not surprising that we have these debates.
There are some who demand that you stick to one style, one art, one school. There are also those of us who cross train and learn to find value in different styles.
Reading this article recently about the history of Shito-ryu Karate (NWSMA’s style) taught me something really cool.
We often get the questions, “What do belt colors mean?” and “What order do the belts go in?”
Family belt collection; what a rainbow!
Well, grasshopper, it’s complicated. Continue reading
We have a lot of students who will be testing soon, so today I’d like to offer some insight into how NWSMA handles rank testing/grading. I’m going to talk generally about the subject and at the end, I’ll offer some thoughts about what every martial arts student can do to make the most of their training.
How students advance through the ranks can be quite different from school to school and style to style. NWSMA instructors aim to tailor our approach to each individual student’s particular capabilities and situation.
At NWSMA, as a student satisfactorily learns the requirements listed on their sheet, we give them colored tape stripes (blue for kicks, yellow for hand techniques, etc). This allows any instructor to see what areas a student needs to work on, and it gives the kids a tangible mark of achievement.
When it comes to actual testing, though, the #1 school rule is that