The best challenges are the ones we have a choice in. By choosing to undertake difficulty, we make ourselves stronger. –Sensei/YDN Caitlin
Pile o’ belts.
Today, I was reading about the history of using colored belts when I came across another great quote. “Achievement of rank should be considered as a side-effect of karate training and not a goal.”(You can read the essay here if you’re interested, but it is a fairly dry [no offense to its author] historical essay full of facts, names, and dates).
Anyhoo, I agree that your training shouldn’t only be focused on achieving belt rank. That’s shortsighted, and misses the point of martial arts.
But I *do* think that testing is an important ritual in martial arts. Let me explain… (click “more”).
In some martial arts schools, progress is defined with belt ranks. Students learn new things, test, and then receive new belts. It’s a shiny process. Everyone loves receiving something new. But I’ve asked myself before, and now I’ll ask you:
Do belts equal progress? Which is more important: a pile o’ belts? Or real progress?
Pile o’ belts.
We believe that black belts should be good at martial arts. But at a certain point in everyone’s martial arts career, the rate of technical progress slows. Progress depends greatly on the students’ self-awareness (age/maturity), effort, attendance, and perseverance.
That being said, I realize that it can seem discouraging not to move up in belt rank for a long time. So I’d like to share several other ways I define progress–ones that I think are much more meaningful than a rainbow of belts.