Can I be a black belt?

October 15, 2018

“Promise me you’ll always remember, you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” by A. A. Milne in Winnie The Pooh

I read this quote and I believe that this is what practicing the martial arts teaches us. We all start off thinking we could never do what the black belt students are doing, but we want to. We see black belts doing things that we can’t imagine doing since we are having so much difficulty with the basic white belt movements. How could we ever make it look so easy like the black belts do? The black belts know so much. How will we ever be able to remember all the different moves and forms. As a white belt seeing the goal of black belt as attainable is difficult. Seeing the next belt, the yellow belt, that seems possible. Daring to see ourselves as a black belt can be scary. Choosing to go forward is brave.

The gift the martial arts can give to a student is to teach us how to make a plan for success. For the goal of black belt you have to get all the belts between white and black. There’s certain tasks at each belt rank. Do the the tasks and go to the next one. Life has big projects and big goals. We need to make the list of small tasks to complete the project and achieve the goal. What a great life skill to develop. I wish I had started my martial arts training as a child instead of as an adult.

The black belt perspective can let you see that anything is possible. The white belt comes to class twice a week. The white belt tries to make their body repeat the moves being taught. The white belt tries to listen to the coach/sensei, focus on the corrections, and make the suggested changes. It can feel exhausting. And then one morning when you are so tired you need to make coffee and are reaching up over your head to get the jar of instant coffee, it slips from your right hand and before you can think of trying to catch it, it is in your left hand and has only fallen about two inches.

You look at your left hand and say to yourself, “How did I just do that? I could never do that before I started taking karate.” Your body has changed. You wonder what else could change about you if you continue to practice martial arts. You feel like you could be a black belt someday.

That was the morning as a beginning martial arts student that I saw the goal of black belt for me was possible. I continued to train. I caught my cousin’s daughter while she was falling backwards before she hit the floor and before anyone else tried to reach for her. It shocked me and my family. Then my training saved my life twice. Once in a stairwell and once with a Rottweiler dog. I’ll write about those stories next time. :)