Black Belt seems to have become a meaningless term these days. So many out there have bastardised what a Black Belt stands for. It is rare that a person with a Black Belt gains any sort of respect for having achieved it. Perhaps this is because in so many cases, nowadays, there has been no achievement.
In past times a Black Belt represented something. It added credibility to a person and said something about his character. The McDojang/McDojo has put a swift end to this. The sad thing is that the black belts from these sorts of clubs think that they are deserving of the title.
There are still clubs out there that produce true Black Belts, but to the man in the street, how can it be distinguished? All they hear is “Black Belt” and all of it is pooled together as washed up, watered down flim-flam – a useless piece of cloth tied around a person’s waist. All real Black Belts will know what it has taken to achieve this status and have an obligation to themselves to hold their name on high.
So without getting into too much detail, here are just a few traits that a Black Belt should attempt to embody and display:
- A Black Belt is Loyal. Loyalty is an essential trait of a Black Belt. If there has not been a test of loyalty, then the belt is undeserving. Loyalty is proven not by technical ability, but by time and trial. Black Belt should not be given within a short time frame; it should be a process of years. Through a time of years there are many ups and downs that a student will go through. If the student cannot deal with the good times and the bad with commitment, perseverance and fortitude, then they do not deserve to wear the belt.
- A Black Belt is Honourable. He is honest. He will not try to cheat or trick you. He has a sense of morality and integrity that he holds true to and will not breach.
- A Black Belt is Skilled. A black belt must be able to perform at the correct level for his age and rank. Without the physical side, a martial art is not really a martial art. If a person wants only the mental side, then they would be better suited to meditation classes. A minimum criteria should be met to attain a black belt. In today’s society people are awarded for “trying”. Not everybody is supposed to get to black belt, no matter how hard they try. The physical tests and challenges is one of the ways to keep the standard at its peak. It is the elite that should be honoured with the esteem of wearing black around their waist. The physical side is an extremely important part of any martial art.
- A Black Belt Trains. Even after achieving the belt, a Black Belt will train. He realizes that this is only the start of the journey and not the destination. He realizes that a Black Belt title is only valid as long as he is still training. Otherwise he would say, “I used to be a Black Belt”, when people ask. True skill and the ingraining of technique will only happen after black belt. This is achieved through continued consistency and dedication after Black Belt has been achieved. A Black Belt realizes that he has just started practicing, has a lot to learn, and is happy to continue learning.
- A Black Belt is Trustworthy. He stands by his word and will not let you down. He is reliable and punctual. To a Black Belt, a promise is a promise and he does not give his word lightly. His reliability adds to his sense of honour, and his honour is of utmost importance.
- A Black Belt is Committed. A Black Belt’s commitment to his Martial Art, training, and club is indisputable. It is a way of life to the Black Belt, not a mere pastime.
- A Black Belt is Inspiring. A Black Belt is an inspiration to others because he possesses qualities and skills so irregular in the norms of today’s society. He is an example. He leaves students, spectators and society in awe of his physical capabilities, and in admiration of his mental fortitude, positive outlook and character. People want to be like Black Belts and dream and strive to be like them.
- A Black Belt is Successful. He strives for excellence. He does not celebrate mediocrity. He is always striving to be better and accomplish greater goals. He achieves what he sets his mind to. He will meet his goals and live an accomplished life.
- A Black Belt is willing to Sacrifice. He is willing to go the extra mile and contributes in whatever way he can for the benefit and growth of his Art and Club. He realizes that there is more to his martial art than paying monthly fees.
- A Black Belt has a Relationship with his Martial Art. He doesn’t run it down or cheat on it. He loves his martial art and will protect and stand up for it.
- A Black Belt is Respected. He is respected because he has earned it. He has earned it through displaying and living by these traits. A black belt may not be recognizable by the cloth worn around his waist anymore, but there is still something distinguishable about a real one. The black belt emanates from inside of him.
These are just a few of the many characteristics a Black Belt should display. A Black Belt is always looking to improve in whatever way he can. He is constantly working to be his best. It should be remembered that Black Belt is not a right, no matter how long or how hard a person trains. It cannot be demanded or bought with monthly dues. Black belts must reclaim and resurrect the name by displaying the traits and values that were once held true.