Your Black Belt Journey

There is a reason the title is “Your Black Belt Journey”, it’s YOUR journey. No one else can walk your life. You were created for a purpose and it’s your job to walk it to the best of your ability. That being said, too many times we see students comparing themselves to another student. In this article I will discuss what it means to walk the journey on the road to a black belt.

Your Black Belt Journey

Anything worth having takes time to get. Earning your Masters degree in Engineering, finishing Ranger school, a successful life long marriage. All of these things have something in common, they took a long time and a lot of hard work to achieve and/or maintain. People tend to treat martial arts different. As if learning to defend yourself from a threat is easier then one of these skills. Defending your family while fighting off multiple attackers or maybe even just one is not something you can learn in a weekend seminar. Yet, people continue to say they’ll “give it a try”. Or they will “do some Wing Chun” as if it were finger painting session with their friends.

Building a lifestyle

contact sifu och wing chun, kung fu, lakeland, florida, sifu och wing chun, contact us, kung fu lakeland, wing chun lakelandTo really learn self defense you must embrace it as a lifestyle. The same thing that is said about being healthy is true here. If you “go on a diet” you will eventually go back to your un-healthy ways. You must change how you live as a whole. You must become a healthy person. They choices you make a the grocery store, restaurants, and gym time. This is who you are and what you do. Not an activity you participate in for a few weeks. The same is exactly true in training self defense.

But I’m High enough ranked I’ll be ok

In my previous article 3 cycles of martial arts I explain that there are 3 main stages to training: Programming, Application, Reaction. Advanced Wing Chun classes sparring trainingAll 3 take time to develop in reference to a technique. But the most important thing is they must be maintained. If you do not keep up your training then you will NOT BE ABLE to respond to a threatening situation. Reacting to an attack takes split second reflexes as well as a situational awareness that maximizes your time. You may remember techniques from your training time but applying them quick enough will be very hard to accomplish.

The proof of this is many previous higher ranking students will come back from a hiatus and will struggle greatly with sparing and gor sao and lower ranking current students. That being said, setting goals and reaching them is a huge help when it comes to training as you go. But you should not have a rank as an end game. Living your life like a Black Sash is the key.

You Must Change

The Sash itself is NOT the goal in martial arts. It is the person you become while trying to obtain it. When you envision a person who is a “Black Sash” you typically picture someone who is wise, patient, hard working, compassionate. You must become the person you envision as a Black Sash. That transformation into something new only happens under the heavy anvil of rigorous, consistent training. Be reaching for small goals (i.e. your next rank) you have something you can slowly move towards and develop those characteristics on the way.

Nobody else can walk this path for you. You must accept where you are as a human. Recognize the type of person you must become. If you were a Black Sash how hard would you train? How compassionate would you be towards others? How loving would you be towards your family? These characteristics are what make a Black Sash. What are you doing to become that?

Black Belt Kids – Youngest Black Belt EVER!

Black Belt Kids should children receive Black Belts?

black belt kids, kids black belt, kids, black belt, martial arts, karate, kung fu, wing chunWe don’t believe in Black Belt kids, but we do believe in building the Black Belt Kid mentality.  We feel much like college and advanced learning a Black Belt is meant for a matured mind and body in the martial arts.

But despite our opinions Black Belt kids happen more and more every year.  Some call them McDojo’s, giving kids (some under 14 years old) black belt level within a short period of time, all to get them to stay and parents to keep paying.  Of course parents and children are led to believe that the martial art instructor and staff are uplifting their child a through earned achievement.

So where do you stand?  Should your child become a Black Belt Kid?  Or is your child already a Black Belt Kid?

With after school programs having children start as young as 5 and within a few years achieving a Black Belt something that use to be reserved for elite adults. Training over years and proving everything they had to learn against grow men. With more and more schools opening up and ranking children faster to keep them and the parents happy, where does it end.

Ranking is not about color, but capability

martial art, kids, kids black belt, black belt kids, THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, ranking for our school is hard to achieve, must be earned and is not about color. We believe ranking should be about skill and attitude built & achieved.  It’s always nice to get a new belt, a symbol of achievement. Many years ago BLACK BELT was a Title held Like a Masters Degree. Now children are just given black belts. Can they stop an adult attacker? or a Larger Bully? -OR- Did they receive the promise of a Black Belt to keep you paying & them coming?

We talk to parents weekly who tell us that their child can’t protect themselves but the have or are about to achieve their Black Belt. So what is it worth then? What happens when that symbol is given out easily, it cheapen’s it.

PARENTS & CHILDREN Not realizing that the reason a Black Belt is revered is because of the skill, attitude, focus and determination it took to achieve. WE BELIEVE A BLACK BELT SHOULD BE A SYMBOL OF A LIFE CHANGE & ACCOMPLISHMENT. NOT A CHILD’S TOY TO WANT, AND YOU TO BUY YOUR WAY THROUGH.

Belt Colors & different Schools

We at SIFU OCH WING CHUN believe that lasting skill is taught daily, not because of a black belt promise. But the life skills taught and honed by teachers who give their all. Parents who don’t let their kids quit and students who do their best everyday.  If your child wanted to quit Elementary School would you let them? Some kids want to quit whats hard, what they aren’t immediately good at.  Will you let your child quit before they have truly achieved?

Our program here at Sifu Och Wing Chun doesn’t believes in having a child earn a black belt.  We provide a clear way for children to make their way through our young children’s class and move smoothly into our teen and adult classes. A Black Belt or in our case since we train Wing Chun Kung Fu, a Black Sash is something that must not be taken lightly.


black belt kids, black belt, kids, ranking, martial arts, karate, kung fuWe don’t believe in Black Belt Kids, we don’t believe in handing out ranks.

We believe a Black Belt like a going to college, it needs a mature mind and body to achieve.  

Instead of focusing on the belt rank, we focus on the life skills they are achieving and who they are becoming as an individual.  Will they make good choices or bad choices in life?  Will you hope they do or train them to do so?  We believe these LIFE SKILLS are more important then the focus on a BLACK BELT.  For us a BLACK BELT is a level of physical, mental, and emotional skill that as an adult we are mature enough to handle and gain the most from.

A child may be in the excelled learning program but it doesn’t mean they have the same understanding you do about the World now.  A child’s mind and body, their experience in the World and what they could achieve is what we aim to develop.  Uplifting them every step of the way.  We believe you earn what you train and what you prove you know.  Sifu Och Wing Chun builds a childs self esteem, skill, and personal determination.  All of this can uplift a child without giving them the false understanding of black belt ranking.

Belt Rank signifies Growth and Understanding of Skill

In our classes belt ranking signifies what you understand and what we can now give you to build on what you have already trained and shown you understand.  You may not have Mastered it yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give you time and training to do so while teaching you more!

Black Belt Kids is a child seeking a new goal, not understanding its significance?  If a child’s only goal in sit is getting that Black Belt then what is it worth if you get it easily? Our program builds a child up, their self defense skills, focus, and learning how to achieve in life. So they can transition through each phase in life, growing with our program in to the older kids classes, teen and adult programs.

Your Opinion on Black Belt Kids Ranking

If your reading this tell us how you motivate your children in your program.  How do you rank a child who is 5 years old looking to achieve and keep them going until they are an adult?    

How do you get them to focus on more than just a belt?  

When do you believe its a good time to rank a person to Black Belt and why?

Do you have kids that are Black Belts, tell us if your opinion differs and why?

Train with us. Achieve with us. Win with us.

Master Sifu Justin Och
SE USA World Ving Tsun Athletic Association Regional Director
5th Degree Wing Chun Black & Gold Sash
116 east pine st, lakeland florida 33801
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The Black Belt Hall of Fame – EUSAIMMA

Gathering many of the top martial artists in the world for a weekend of training, sharing, and recognition, the EUSAIMAA (Eastern USA International Martial Arts Association) is the of the oldest Hall of Fames in the USA. This Black Belt Hall of Fame is one of our favorite times of the year.

Black Belt Hall of Fame – The Real Deal

The EUSAIMAA is not an association that you can buy your way into. You also don’t submit your own awards for the ceremony like many other Associations and Hall of Fames. Entrance into this hall of fame comes at no small cost. For approval to be inducted, a member must put his reputation at stake to refer someone else. With this check in place, The Black Belt Hall of Fame has successfully brought together some of the most talented and deadly martial artists for 29 years.

A Melting Pot

What is the benefit of such a gathering? With so many talented people coming together from 64 countries there could be a lot of conflict due to ego and pride. However, when you gather talented people of strong character, you get a melting pot full of opportunities. This exposes martial artists to other styles, allowing them to make many lifelong friends. The biggest thing that can be gained from such weekend is humility.

Eastern USA International Martial Arts Association

Seeing Masters and Grandmasters in so many different styles showcasing their arts full potential really puts in perspective what one person can do from staying dedicated to something no matter the style. And not only where the different styles great to watch, it was amazing to see the similarities! Seeing the footwork of Ninjitsu blend with Kenpo at times. The hands of Karate alluding to White Crane. From Ninjistu to Kenpo, Karate to Wing Chun, one can really appreciate and respect someone else’s passions and beliefs. You could really see that respect in place with how everyone came together that weekend to help each other grow.

One Big Family

What this weekend was really about was unity. It was great to see such unity in a world that has so much strife, division, and hate. There was nothing but love in that hotel this past weekend. Love that crossed all borders, colors, and politics. The love was based on a common mission we all have in the martial arts world. That mission is to protect those we love and reach into people’s lives to help them become stronger and better. By doing so we create and better world by changing one life at a time. Through the struggle and toil of training we overcome our own demons so we can show other people the way.

The Mission

With a common goal in mind, the awards ceremony that Saturday night was nothing less than beautiful for The Black Belt Hall of Fame. Everyone from Masters and Grandmaster’s awarded for their lifelong dedication to their art, students, and community, to special needs students defeating the hardest of obstacles. Award and praise is given to those who stay determined! Over 450 black belts in one room encouraging one another is a site to behold and even though praise and awards should not be one’s motivation, it does something to a person to know their actions do not go unrecognized. In each school those who put in the work should get rewarded. By focusing on the positive aspects of training students learn to replace negativity in their mind. This is a great practice to have in all walks of life.

Your Training

Ninjitsu, Kenpo, Karate, Wing Chun, Kendo, Tae Kwon Do, Krav Maga, the list goes on and on. No matter what you pick, train hard. Stay dedicated and humble. Seek to serve those around you by being the best you can be. It doesn’t matter if you are 15 or 55, you can make a difference to those around you. Develop the black belt mentality and defeat your obstacles no matter the size and one day you could be in The Black Belt Hall of Fame.

Wing Chun White Sash to Black Sash – How Long?

Famous entrepreneur, Jim Rohn once said, “Success is something you attract by the person you become.” That statement , which is typically heard in the business world, has never been more true than in the realm of martial arts. When it comes to training, significant focus is devoted to the development of technique, skill, speed, but the development of who the person is cannot be overlooked. Going from the Wing Chun white sash to black sash (the equivalent of a black belt in other forms) takes time, commitment, and a lot of self-control.

THE Wing Chun White Sash to Black Sash Journey

The journey from the Wing Chun white sash to black sash is typically a long one. At Sifu Och Wing Chun, a practitioner training diligently every week may take anywhere from 8-10 years to finish the system in its entirety. But for those who do finish the system, the transformation from the beginner to master is beautiful. The title of “Sifu” (literally “teacher”), when attained, carries with it the essence of not only instructor, but of mentor, discipler, and leader. The evolution into a Sifu comes only through perseverance in the face of opposition, frustration, and pain.

Where, however, does the struggle originate? Is there opposition within a school? There can be. Is there frustration with an instructor’s method? Potentially. Is there pain at the end of a sparring partner’s strike? Without a doubt. The inward struggle, however, is much more vital to the success of a martial artist. To reach the next level in Wing Chun classes, one must face his or her own flaws and take them head-on. You face opposition with your own work ethic—to train or not to train. Someone dealing with self-doubt will struggle to have the confidence that new abilities can be learned resulting in frustration. And pain, pain from failure, can lead to great personal disappointment. All of these adversities are examples of things which direct each person to one of two ends: failure or success.

From White to Black

To succeed in moving from the Wing Chun white sash to black sash, one must actively work on him or herself. And that, is the exact moment where the title of “Sifu” comes full circle. The Master has overcome those very same struggles in his or her walk. He can now guide and teach the student in the journey before them. And that is the key to Sifu Och’s success, reaching into each individual’s lives and pulling out the very best in his students. That is how success is attained. That is how the Black sash is earned. This is the journey from the Wing Chun white sash to slack sash.


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