If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.

If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.

Bruce Barton

Recently I presented two black belts to some kids who have been training at Adrenalin for the past 5 years.

The martial arts world is filled with a thousand different opinions on what age a black belt should be, what competencies they should have, how long should it take, etcetera and so forth, at any rate and whatever your beliefs about what a black should look like. One thing is for sure, in the bulk of systems I have studied; a black belt is a metaphor or a symbol of mental and physical transformation.

Back to the two children in question: before I presented them with their black belts I asked the class what they thought a black belt student should be and this is what they come up with:

Confident                      Be Good                       Concentrate

Keep Your Hands Up                     Don’t bash people      Be Persistent

Don’t quit                      Be Good at karate      Don’t have to be the best

Must Try

The profound thing about what these kids came up with, is that just the week before I had conducted three interviews with some guys who had 40+ years experience in the martial arts, and most of what they had to say was exactly in line with what these mini warriors had to say.


Confidence is trusting in your abilities and what’s possible for you. A confident person goes after what they want and doesn’t let circumstances, other people, shortcomings, negative thoughts and lack of motivation sway them or diminish their drive to succeed. 

Be Good

Being a good person is basically being a nice person. It’s putting other’s needs ahead of your own. It’s being a great friend to those who are close to you. It’s forgiving your family for their inadequacies and taking every opportunity to better yourself.


Concentration is your ability to do what you know you should be doing despite all the immediate and peripheral distractions. Being seduced by distractions is what takes energy away from success and achievement. Focus on what you’re doing and put in 100% effort every time.

Keep your hands up

This is about not forgetting the basics. It’s easy, especially in martial arts, to be distracted by having to learn a thousand different moves. But at the end of the day when your defending yourself, sparring or grappling, it’s the foundational stuff that is the most reliable and will get you out of the most trouble.

Don’t bash people

Never miss-use your skills. When executed correctly most martial arts techniques can inflict a huge amount of damage. Martial arts are intended for defence only. Your skills should only ever be used if your life or the life of someone you love is in danger. To quote Spiderman, ”with great power comes great responsibility”.

Be Persistent

Persistence is continuing to chase after to what you want even if your goal seems a million miles away. If you suck at what you’re doing that’s great – you can only get better. If someone else gets there before you that’s great too – it’s proof that you can do it. Persistence will beat natural talent and opportunity any day of the week.

Don’t Quit

Winners never quit and quitters never win. If you want anything in life you have to have the never say die attitude.

Be Good at Karate

Do what you can. Not all of us are super fit. Not all of us have natural talent. Not all of us can train every day of the week. Do the best you can with what you’ve got – we can all be good at martial arts but unless you put in a massive amount of time we are not all going to be world champions. If you feel good about what you’re doing and you can manage to do the skills appropriate to your level, then you’re on the right track.

Don’t have to be the best

My experience in the martial arts has been that the longer you train the more humble you become. In the advanced levels you begin to realize that there is always more to learn, always areas to improve upon and always someone better. Does that mean that you should settle for average performance? – Of course not. You should aim to be the best that you can (given the time you can put into training).  And along the way, don’t get disheartened but rather inspired by those around you who are better than you are.

Must Try

When you train, be as fully engaged in the process as possible and this will give you maximum return. Small intensive workouts are much better than long and lazy workouts. Get into training work hard and you will reap the rewards. 

I hope you enjoyed this article, which was inspired by the insight of seven kids all under the age of eleven.