What does it mean to be or become a Black Belt? The Black Belt in western and eastern culture has become a recognized symbol or excellence and achievement in society today. When I tell someone I am a martial arts teacher by profession they will ask me, “are you a black belt?” When i answer yes there is suddenly a different view of me. Many corporations now use the Black Belt as an example of excellence in the company. Interesting eh??
I remember well the day I was promoted for the first time to a Black Belt rank. But I remember even better when it happened to my children. So what does this achievement really mean?
Well if you view it as an end, there it really has no meaning at all. Do you often look at your high school or college / university degree? Probably not. However if you view this Black Belt achievement as the beginning of life’s journey then it has great personal meaning. I was pretty proud of myself when I got my 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dan’s. But when I hit 4th Dan I came to the realization of just how little I really knew and how much more there was to learn! Today at 9th Dan, with many other Black Belts in other arts under my “belt” i have concluded that everyday I know less and less.
Black Belt is something you ARE, not something you become. I have heard many excellent martial artists call themselves “martial artists” and there was a time I felt that way too. But now as I no longer think about my rank, think about the techniques or the movement, I have become something different.
I am not a martial artist, I am an artist of life. Becoming a black belt was part of a journey to understand what it means to be alive, and all the adventures both good and bad which that entails.
Just my thoughts,