Black Belt Is Just the Beginning

Becoming a Black belt is not a destination, a completion of one’s training; it’s a journey of continual learning and training of one’s mind, body, and spirit. Once the student feels he has nothing else to learn, then he will, in fact, learn nothing, and thus, never grow to fulfill his very potential.

Becoming a Black belt is not the end-all-be-all. It is just the beginning.

I first begun my martial arts training in Shotokan Karate in June 2006. Finishing up my undergraduate studies, and a couple of months before I was to begin my first corporate professional position at a Fortune 50 company, I wanted to become more active, fit, and healthy, and the standard gym membership was too boring for me. I wanted to actually learn something while being physically active. A group class seemed a good fit for me. And martial arts? It just sounded cool.

Initially, the Japanese terms, the kicks, blocks, punches, and stances were all very strange to me. It felt awkward, weird, and I had no idea what the instructor (sensei) was saying to us. But it was fun, challenging, and most certainly more stimulating than an hour on the elliptical (my standard workout during college). Soon, the passion to train and seeing myself progress rapidly encouraged my interest in it and motivated me beyond my initial reasons to join.

I see the coveted position of being a Black belt (just earned my 1st degree Black belt this June) as alluring as any other person, what with the immediate respect and awe you receive even with merely walking into a room. At the same time, I also see the intrinsic benefits of this type of martial art that goes beyond the color of one’s belt. Traditionally, belts and belt colors did not even exist in one’s training. The introduction of a ranking system was only introduced not too long ago and worked well in the Western world, whereby a visual, measurable goal of getting a Orange belt, or Purple belt, helped students to know where they “stand” in their training. However, when it comes down to a real street fight or in real-life self-defense, your opponent/attacker will not know or care that you are a Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu . You will just need to fight for your life.

That is why once one attains the level of mastery of all the basics, which is what being a Black belt means at the most basic level, the real training begins. The philosophical and spiritual aspects of the martial arts are slowly studied. The why behind the moves are discovered in detail. Continual learning and growth are essential components in developing oneself and to reach beyond your self-imposed limitations in order to shatter them.

True growth begins when you realize that any activity, exercise, hobby, or work is not just an act in and of itself. It is intertwined with your whole reason for being. It is the journey, the blood, sweat, and tears, that makes up your life and the experiences you have because of it.

After all, becoming a Black belt is just the beginning. Now the real training and learning begins …

  • kiran


  • Castles in the Air

    Thanks for all your support, Kiran!

  • Jonathan

    Yup. The journey of getting somewhere is as meaningful as “finally be there”!

    Getting over one obstacle/challenge is just a beginning – it prepares us to face the next challenge!

    Again, congratulation! ^_^ Keep going & + oil!

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    Much like mastery in any other art form… it’s those little lessons that make the journey even more significant.

  • Nina Yau

    Yes, so true!

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