Wednesday, October 05, 2005

What does black belt mean to me?

What does black belt mean to me? I'm sure that the answer to this question will evolve in time to be totally different. When I was asked what kind of mother I would be when I was expecting my first child, I had SUCH a set of ideas of what I would do, and how I'd do it. Today, I look back and I think" Well, I've lived up to my expectations, made them realistic, and surpassed them." I feel that it's going to be very similar with the whole idea of becoming a black belt. When I was a white belt, only a few weeks old, I saw black as THE goal... the ultimate place to be. I saw the black belts walking by with their heads held up.. Like lead dogs in a dog sled team. I had a healthy admiration for their abilities. I saw them as near "perfect", and I dreamed of being so perfect in my art that I would have no fear, or mistakes, or awkwardness anymore. Then the "analyzer" part of me kicked in, and I watched the reality play out before me. Black belts are even more aware of their mistakes, and weaknesses than a white belt. They know what they want from themselves, and they have a better knowledge of what karate is supposed to be. White belts throw out whatever arm movement, and assume that they did this or that quite well. Meanwhile, black belts are aware of this or that little nuance that was missing. They can even feel when a technique is missing something, and when it was done properly. So then I had to reassess what "being a black belt" means.. because it definitely does not mean being at a point of total knowledge. In fact, learning how to do the basics properly is a life-long education. I remember my original first Shotokan Sensei telling us that sometimes a person will pass the Shodan test, not because of how much they know in technique but more because they have the right desire/attitude within them. If such is the case, then a black belt is a symbol of someone who has chosen to walk the WAY of karate. Therefore, receiving a black belt is the manner of a Sensei telling the person that they recognize in this person the attitudes, and inner desires which reveal that they have started travelling on the same path that the Sensei has been walking for so many years. What does black belt mean to me? It means that I physically, verbally, and mentally express the attitudes of seeking, learning, being open to correction, humility, patience, perserverence, courage, obedience, justice, respect, courtesy, faithfulness, self-control, aggressiveness tempered with peacefulness, self-respect, respect for others, greatefulness, honesty, responsibility, willingness to teach, and share knowledge, and calmness when needed not only when one does karate in the dojo, but also when they live outside of the dojo. Attaining a black belt means that my Sensei sees that kind of quality in me. I've met alot of black belts who do not live up to what I have seen in my First Shotokan Sensei, and what I believe a black belt represents.. but that is not important.. because the meaning of black belt has become what it is for me.. and THAT is what counts.

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