What Does It Mean To Be A Black Belt? (Part #3)

What Does It Mean To Be A Black Belt? (Part #3)

Be Open Minded

It’s easy to fall into the “I know it all trap” when you have been training for a while. There is an old Chinese proverb that say that “change is only certainly in life”. It’s likely that what and how you train now will be different from what and how you train in the future. Change in how you do certain things will be a natural consequence of being in the martial arts for 20+ years. Just ask anyone who has been in the martial arts long term, how techniques and attitudes have changed as their journey has progressed. Some traditional martial arts will still be the same but progressive systems will always evolve. So being open to that progression is important if you want to be an evolving martial artist yourself.

Don’t Compare

This goes back to a quote I explored about 6-months ago. If you see a worthy person emulate them, if you see an unworthy person look to the inner self. It doesn’t read if you see a worthy person – feel jealous, inadequate, stupid, not good enough and hopeless. This is head trash. Get your head out of the trash and use that person who performs better than you as inspiration for what you can achieve if you get into gear. Remember too that martial arts are an individual pursuit. Yes we are in this together, but at the end of the day you take from it what you need. Focus on your game, your goals and your aspirations and don’t let yourself be caught up in what everyone else is doing.

Work On Weaknesses

My greatest growth has come from the areas of development which I suck at. About 14 years ago I started my first BJJ class with my friend Bill Gray. And I was crap. About as crap as you can be. Now I could have said to myself “you know what, I don’t need to learn how to wrestle.” I could in my own mind be satisfied with my skills standing up and left it at that. But me being me, I took that arse whooping as a personal challenge to work on that area. Grappling is still my weakest area but it is 100% better that what is used to be and I continue to feel improvements every time I train. Some of you reading this may feel really confident on the ground but couldn’t punch to save yourself. So here’s he deal, work on it.  This is very simple but very hard at the same time - but essential if you want to keep the passion for martial arts alive within you.

Forget About Rank

Belt colour and Dan ranks after black belt become much less important the longer you train. I have been a 4th degree black belt for over 19 years now. Theoretically, I should be a 6th or 7th Dan on paper. But I don’t care about that. My purpose is to improve – that simple. Even though my current goal in BJJ is to achieve my black, I am not fixated on that as a consequence of training. My goal is simply to get better at that area. I don’t care about the belt. I want to be the best possible BJJ brown belt that I can be – that simple. If the black comes along, great, but that’s not why I do it. I do it because I love it and I do it because it’s an area for me to improve on. Martial arts are always a work in progress. If you treat it that way, training is more fun and more rewarding.  Therefore, the belt around your waist does not determine your success but rather by how much better you are today compared to yesterday.

Be Humble

I had a child in one of my classes telling everyone how good he was because he was an orange belt and everyone else in the class was a white belt and I gently told him to be humble. What’s that mean? The boy asked. My answer. You may be better than everyone else in the class but if you were humble you would never have to tell them. I think he got it. Either way, being humble is your ability to go about your training in such a way that your body language, what you say and how you behave never inflates your perceived ability. You may be great at what you do, but making everyone else aware of that is a quick way to lose the respect and friendship that you have with your peers. Being humble is also recognizing that while we you may be a great martial artist you may have other shortcomings or weaknesses. You should ask yourself am I a good partner, parent, sibling, cook, co-worker… you get the idea. As Einstein once said we are all equally wise - and equally foolish. ....

“Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do.

But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.”

Unknown Author