What does it mean to be a Black Belt. Have you become the belt that surrounds your waist? Or are you engulfed in the ego that helped to drive you to this achievement in your life? Martial Arts is about self expression. It is not about winning or losing, trophies or awards, it is about self knowledge. When training is done with mind, body and spirit then there are bi-products, things like health, wellness and self defense.
Many people across all cultures understand what Black Belt means, “fighting proficiency.” But that only skims the surface. They will ask if you have ever used your training. How can I not? It is like breathing. But that is not the purpose of this essay. The school I founded called Peaceful Warriors’ Martial Arts Institute had a purpose to its name. Not to exploit any one person or style, but to represent the Yin/Yang of life. The paradox that is reality. To know peace you must know violence and vica versa. You train and learn of violence so you can love peace.
In most parts of life the true black belt will pass quietly, uninterested in showing off or talking about his achievements, why should he or she? They are personal. But when the time comes he or she can immediately and automatically leap into action to defend the self or family, then revert back to the peaceful person. There is no bragging of how he took care of business or pride in the victory. Just the knowledge that what must be done, was done and then you move on.
An great example of this quiet understanding is when a teacher corrects a student. It is done gently and with patience. It is never done to show you know more then they do. That is ego. A black belt of mine once asked why I did not correct more often, I told her it is because it is self development, self knowledge. As long the basic movement is correct the students will FEEL the rest. And with time they always do.
To martial arts students everywhere, what do you see when you look in a mirror in a gi? When I look in a mirror I don’t see a grand master or master, I see a man who struggles each day to be a little bit better person then the day before.