Black Belt: What It Is and What It Takes

By Coral

Coral (right) at an Arnis seminar in 2019.

For some people, they think of a black belt as a way of showing off or proving that you’re better than other people. But to me, it proves that I can do anything I set my mind to and to always finish what I started. To never give up and have the courage and the mindset to keep going even though it’s hard, and that is what a black belt is truly about.

My karate journey started at 6 years old. My parents enrolled me in a few activities including karate, gymnastics, swimming, volleyball, tennis, ukulele, and piano in order to make sure I become an over achiever and a successful person in my life (like seriously, that’s what my mom told me). But little did I know how much of an impact karate would have on my life. r

I started training at JIKC martial arts studio in Aiea, Hawaii for about 3 years. However, when I moved to Washington and joined NWSMA, I noticed something different about this new school and the other students there. At JIKC, there were hundreds of students that would come and go and I couldn’t keep track of all the people and their names. I never knew anyone there and the other kids never seemed to want to be my friend or even talk to me. When at NWSMA, the school was much smaller, familiar, and more friendly. But it wasn’t just the people that was different, but the technique as well. NWSMA had longer, lower stances and techniques were faster and more powerful. A lot of physical training and mental strength is required in martial arts, but JIKC didn’t seem to require the same perseverance and resilience needed to get a black belt like NWSMA. They don’t have the same sense of family and friendship that you have at NWSMA, for they run like a business, not a true dojo. 

I have learned countless things from NWSMA. One of these things is discipline. The atmosphere in the dojo is rather serious and strict. Sure we socialize and have our little chats before class or during stretching, but no fooling around or excessive talking is allowed. For me, these disciplinary actions are often used at home and during school as well, teaching me to be more focused and respectful. I also found I put more effort into things in my every day life, such as school, chores, or helping my dad with jobs or around the house. Even the little discussions we have in class has adapted to my life, like knowing how to take care of my body, posture, and how important certain foods are to your system. *ahem* not to mention I learned about the wonderful world of K-pop:) Karate has especially encouraged me to push farther than I believe I can go, making me more determined to achieve my goals. 

Reaching Black belt is not an easy goal. I’ll admit, when I first started karate, the main reason I was interested in it was the fact that it looked cool and I could impress my friends. But it’s much more than cool moves and fancy forms. It requires respect, discipline, patience, humbleness, and a strong physical and mental state. Without the encouragement of my instructors, fellow classmates, and my loving father, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. 

At the end of my black belt test, I realized that this was only the beginning of my training. This is only the first phase of what’s to come. Rather than dwelling on my mistakes and errors that I made, I am determined to improve and learn them in my journey as a black belt. 


July 2022 Calendar