What it means to be a Blackbelt

Yesterday I had the pleasure of promoting 5 of my students to black belt, this day was special in so many unique ways.

Firstly, it was the first time that I had 5 students test together for black belt and secondly it would have been Bruce Lee’s 70th birthday, if he was still with us.

Now you’re probably wondering, what the heck does Bruce Lee’s birthday have in common with a Taekwondo black belt graduation?

Like many other Martial Artists from back in the day, Bruce was a huge inspiration for us, for me it was when I went to see this movie called “Enter the Dragon” I was so pumped and excited coming out of the theater, that all I could think of was wanting to be just like Bruce, “kicking butt and taking names later.” Hi Ya!

Walking down Barrington Street that night I came across a Martial Arts school, I didn’t care if it was Karate, Kung Fu or whatever, I just wanted to sign up and start kicking.

As fate would have it I walked into a Taekwondo school and the rest is history. At the time like any new student all I wanted was to get a black belt, because if I had a black belt, I would be the man.

A funny thing happened, the more I trained, the more my perception changed too. Instead of being fixated on getting the belt, I became more fixated on becoming the belt, from the instead out.

Last night I shared with my new black belts on what it means to me to be a black belt.

Here are my closing remarks.

“In order to understand what it means to be a black belt, one must first understand the journey to becoming a black belt. It is a journey that can be quite long and difficult at times yet very rewarding. Students’ progress through several colored belts, each one, a rung on the ladder to black belt.

It is by working to achieve each new rank that students learn to set goals and develop the discipline and focus along with the many other attributes that go into making a great black belt.

Developing this mindset is not something that happens overnight. It is a transformation that takes many years of hard work and unwavering dedication.

Taekwondo is not simply a means of self-defense or sport, but also a way of life. It is a state of mind that unfolds over the course of ones journey to becoming a black belt.

Most students beginning this journey are seeking to receive a black belt. It is when they realize that a black belt is not something you earn, but something you become that they will truly understand what it means to be a black belt.

Black belt is a state of mind. The responsibility which comes with being a black belt is a responsibility to the betterment of yourself, your community, society and the world.

Black belt is the start of a new path…It is the beginning of a journey that has no end.

Today, I ask you to pay attention to that path, and not look at this as your pinnacle because in reality, there is no pinnacle.

Today marks the end of one journey and the beginning of a new.

“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.”

Be a beginner.”

Happy Birthday Mr. Lee, thank you for inspiring us to greatness.

By: Master Tim Bell

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One Response

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