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
To 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. All 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?