What a Black Belt means to me

Discussion in 'Korean Martial Arts Articles' started by ahsanmustafa, Jul 22, 2010.

  1. Indie12

    Indie12 Valued Member

    After 25 Years and Retirement as a Tae Kwon Do Instructor, I can honestly tell you, your points are very good!! :)
  2. Indie12

    Indie12 Valued Member

    Unfortunately, especially now days getting a black belt simply can mean walking into a mcdojo, paying $$ and walking out with one...

    So on that front giovanni has a point!

    In 3 decades of practice and holding black belts in TKD and Karate, it means alot to me as far as statistics, knowing that out of my entire beginner class, I'm only 1-3 that made that rank. So yeah, it's mentality. I'd also point out that it's dedication and commitment.

    The other point giovanni made was in regards to on the streets. A mugger or bad guy isn't gonna care of your black belt as he/she is attacking you. Then again, the mugger or bad guy wouldn't care if your a cop, soldier, tinkerbell, or santa clause.... Just sayin!
  3. Sy81

    Sy81 New Member

    Hard work and dedication etc etc aside I don't hold the Black belt in such a coveted position. My Black belts are wrapped up in a draw at home, they hold little value for me I only really wear them when I have to i.e a seminar or such and that's only so lower grades or the less knowledgeable know who to ask if they need help.
    I think everyone should consider black belts and white belts as one and the same. Lets be clear, I'm not trying to take anything away from anyone's sense of pride and achievement in earning their black belt in fact more power to you.
    However it seems almost daily now, that I'm meeting, reading or watching and unfortunately having to train with really really poor black belts who might as well be wearing a white belt! No disrespect to the lower grades intended. This is unacceptable and undermines the whole reputation surrounding the elusive black belt.
    In all the MMA and Sanda fights I have competed in or supported a fellow fighter I have regularly witnessed novices beating higher grades, black belts included! When I was a raw beginner and first started competing, I was to my surprise also beating black belts regularly. I was so pleased with myself (yeah I'm a such a badass) because I was beating BLACK belts (I wasn't the only one who was able to do this by the way). I soon realised it wasn't because I was all that (although I've not done badly if I do say so myself), it was simply because regrettable being a black belt isn't all that especially when so many schools focus on different aspects of training instead stepping back and taking a broader view of whats on offer (myself included). Not to mention you can buy them, I've personally been propositioned several times on a like for like basis, you award me such and such and I'll return the favour of this or that grade and papers with no strings attached.
    For me gradings irrespective of your level shows you that you are able to remember and perform a set routine or dance on one day to a sufficient standard in order to pass and that's it. You've already proven that as many times as required of your system to get you to your black belt. It does little to demonstrate yourself as a evolving individual, an evolving martial artist or that you can actually put a fight together and hold your own in a competitive fight, and win even. Black belts offer no more a guarantee then any other grade.
    But back to my comparison of how similar white belts and black belts are, not in content but in essence. I would argue both the white belt and black are the hardest gradings. The difference between the white belt and black belt grading is duration of the grading, the amount of content and technical difficulty. But is the black belt grading really any harder to earn for the experienced student who's worked there way up to it with a solid foundation of techniques to draw from in comparison to the raw novice who's taking there first grading, essentially a blank sheet with no prior martial arts or indeed grading experience to rely on? I know of many students just starting out worried about what they'll be asked to do, or frightened they wont know what to do or they'll look stupid etc and that's normal. I also see just as many black belts in the same state of worry and confusion and self doubt because they thought it would all come together and they would have an answer for this and that and do you know what? They just stand on the side lines just like the white belts!
    For me the real skill in martial arts isn't represented by the status your belt provides. All that demonstrates is your dedication and love for that system. Rather I'm looking for the students ability to apply their knowledge in relation to what they can perform whilst under the stresses of constantly increasing pressure with constantly changing perimeters. Just like a Sanda or MMA fight. Can you do you it when it counts? Can you find that angle, that opening? Can you relate / apply those deadly moves / techniques or whatever in a fight, street or MMA? Gradings in the traditional manner of get show your stuff next move show your stuff and repeat repeat etc etc do not allow the student to demonstrate this.
    Gradings, especially the elusive black belt grade when you consider its reputation as the "you've made it belt", in my opinion does little to demonstrate any actual talent or flare as it's kinda like a physical enactment of a polished resume if you will? Monkey see monkey do. Not Monkey create.
    I am coming at this from a competitive point of view. I fought / fight knock out and submission and freely admit it has coloured my opinion of grades in relation to perceived skill level, but this is where most of my experience lies.
    Like I said at the beginning I think white belts and black belts are more similar than people realise. I see both grades more often than not in a competition setting in very similar states of confusion and unpreparedness! Now you'd think given the discrepancy in experience and the time taken to perfect there system to a black belt level and the supposedly focused mind you should of attained by this point one would be prepared for a fight? This simply isn't the case! To much emphasis is put on the getting through the system making your way through the belts asap that people forget they need to train all aspects of a fight and not just the more traditional side of martial arts or solely the sparring side and actually get good at it along the way. You shouldn't after spending years getting your black belt then need a ton of extra training to step into the ring. A top up on specifics maybe but no more. So for those reasons I'm not convinced by the value of a black belt.
    Hannibal and Knee Rider like this.
  4. 23rdwave

    23rdwave Valued Member

    Belts are preferable to suspenders (braces) and if the belt is black so must be the shoes. I couldn't pull off a purple belt/shoe combo, though. Good luck to those who can.
  5. ogreguts

    ogreguts New Member

    I hold the black belt to be an image of power and authority. It is a not something to be trifled with.
  6. Hannibal

    Hannibal Angriest MAP resident.... Supporter

    Thats what it SHOULD be....sadly it usually isn't
  7. GoldDan

    GoldDan Banned Banned

    I've done taekwondo, one thing that bugged me was that since I was so young, I didn't get a real black belt once I passed my belt exam. I got one of those wierd ones with two colors, I had to go to yet another expensive convention to get the true black belt. However, I did pass the same belt exam as the older guys who got a black belt.

    As I've gotten older and more reflected I see that the belt system is simply good business. Most of the people who are gonna want to learn martial arts are kids, this has consquences for the way we teach. They have to learn in a way that makes the risk of injuries very low. WTF taekwondo is exelent for kids, they learn the kicks, get the cardio. Kids like belts, they want the belts, you have to give customers what they want. The customer is the parents and the kids, then you must have very light sparring with a higher focus on basics and combinations to make up for that. Belts is a good way to keep kids motivated to learn the movements of the martial art, because they want to fight, their vision is to become a fighter, so I replace that with becoming a black belt until it I feel comfortable with them sparring for real. I don't feel comfortable with impulsive kids using neck-cranks, punching each other in the face, the kids training must be different.

    The important thing is to set achivable goals for each belt, so you have a plan on how to train them, for this you need to know how the skill develops. For taekwondo it is apchagi, turning into dollya chagi by pivoting the standing leg and bringing your shin diagonal to the ground before kicking. So you need to know apchagi first, so that would obviously be for white belts.

    A lot of people got really upset when I told them I bought a gold belt on amazon. To me the "supreme master" belt is just a costume. I put it on for the kids to play mr. Myagi, I tell this to their parents and everybody likes it, everybody think it is a great idea. They like that the kids get to earn something.

    Another part of it is that if you wear gi and belts it really helps keeping the thugs out, I did mma for some years and we always had thugs that got in, lost their temper in sparring, and quit after being easily beaten by some nerd who had practised longer. Everybody training here now is very well adjuested, we crack jokes and have fun, it is a very good social enviroment.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2016
  8. KSP08

    KSP08 New Member

    As a relatively new black belt, I am well aware that there's a whole new world of taekwondo that I am getting to work on now. Our school stresses that a black belt makes me proficient in the basics and now, I have to learn how to use them. I appreciate the opportunity to work on specific techniques in detail- spin kick chambers, for example, and lately working on countering a sidekick. I've been a 2nd Dan for 3 months now- it has been 3 of my favorite months of my training- I feel like I'm starting to understand certain techniques and soaking things up faster than before.
  9. The-Millenial

    The-Millenial New Member

    I have been training in Taekwondo for 10 years now, and have achieved my 3rd degree black belt through Taekwondo, soon to be testing for my 4th degree. To me, having a black belt and BEING a black belt are two different things. Anyone can have a black belt; either through actually training to earn it, or simply buying it and saying they have it (holla to the McDojos!) but being a black belt is a way of life. I find new ways to apply the life skills and discipline that I have learned over the years in my everyday life too! A lot of people think about the cool moves that a black belt in Taekwondo probably knows, but there is an entire mental aspect of it too I think, if taken seriously.
  10. Rataca100

    Rataca100 Banned Banned

    From what my teacher said (paraphrase) "Coloured belts are the foundations and as a blackbelt you build upon that" (highlights why i dislike TKD as a defence method) Its not overly confidence inspiring when you are one of the lowest belts and basically everyone has got a Blue belt or higher. As a for the belt, it doesn't really mean much to me, i personally think combat ability should be a core reason for a belt promotion or it should symbolize the amount of time you have trained for or to show what you have been taught. On one side, it should just be a skill indicator and on the other it should be a time/"course" completion indicator, kind of to have a rudimentary chain of command, so the belt level above would be an intermediate to the last belt and can teach the ones below. But the belt itself, is worthless past a indicator of how long you have trained, what you have completed lesson wise or your dueling skill in comparison to that dojo. My vocabulary and English is not that good.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  11. dvcochran

    dvcochran New Member

    I really don't get many of these replies. Your road has not been his road. Not of understand what his level of commitment has been or what his dojang environment has been. It is wrong for any of us to have the often missed used "holier than thou", my road has been much better, tougher, etc.. attitude. It seems he is very succinct in saying what it means to HIM and I commend him. He is certainly not a McDojo student even if he attends one. As far a what a BB is or is not, there is not one set in stone definition. I do agree that it is the bridge to being a serious beginner. Remember the path never ends. There are so many styles just within TKD alone and yes much damage has been done ethically and in perception from programs that "guarantee a BB in two years". That said, I know people who in every measurement earned their BB in two years. So, remember, it is a personal journey where a lot of the measurement comes from within. The most valuable part of practicing that can be used in the real world.
    For you "purist" who believe only their style and school is the only way to do it, go fly a kite.
  12. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    This post was brilliant. It nailed it for me. Can't believe it's not been upvoted.
    Dead_pool likes this.
  13. Autofire

    Autofire New Member

    Interesting conversation. It took me a long time after I got my black belt when I was young to come to terms what it meant to me. Like many said, it was just a beginning but the process of getting to black belt helped build the strong progressions and building blocks that allowed me to develop further in the years after.
    aaradia likes this.
  14. Anjelica

    Anjelica Member

    My proudest day was when I became a Kyosu. Of course I had to earn my black belt first. You have to be second dan to test for Kyosu, which is a certified TSD instructor for those not familiar with the term. I don't go around boasting about it but it does make me feel proud to have earned the title.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017

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