A black belt in training has a myth that can become almost fairytale and legendary. It is with great imagination that we think our teachers and masters can fly around the room, break the ice with a pinkie finger, and are able to beat up ten men without a scratch in return.
The reason for this is because our teachers and leaders have lived extraordinary lives and done great things in the Martial Arts. Their skills, showcased in many Martial Arts demonstrations, leave us in awe.
Then they earn our respect as they become our teachers. What we fail to understand is that the legends of the art have simply one constant thing in common: they have all trained hard and made no excuses not to train.
We are a society that is lazy and high-tech. A century or even just 50 years ago people were more physically active and less dependent on gadgets that support a non-active life. What we call “old school training,” to the older generation was just called training.
When Japanese picked up sake bottles to strengthen their fingers and shoulders, today we use weights or special machines. Where the Chinese dug their hands into rice to get stronger, we use finger-forearm machine grips. The truth of the matter is that we always have a chance to train hard. To protect the integrity of a black belt, we cannot water-down training.
If a school is pushing students along because it makes people feel good, then the coin phrase “old school” is gone. Training hard depends on a person’s goals and what she wants to achieve.
Training hard as a black belt is something you should want to do to preserve and further along your ability. A student cannot train for three or four years and, upon receiving a black belt, relax like all the magic comes out of the belt. The exact opposite is true. Your belt, hopefully, every time you tie it on, should be a symbol of persistence, effort, and goals.
When you think of the origin and myths that surround the people we call legends, they all have another unique trait in common: they have a great command of their basic skills. It is that we are in awe of their every move.
The basic skills of any art-a perfect punch, side kick, good stance, and effective block are the seeds of a giant tree. If you want to be thought of as legendary and spoken of as if you were a part of old-school training, then you must do the following five steps, you must sow these seeds:
You must not be afraid of repetition.
Repetition is the mother of memory. It is only through repetition that we develop our instinct.
One must be willing to think more about our skill, craft, or technique properly.
The mind is the strongest muscle if flexed properly. A strong and clear mind leads to absorbing skills better. A strong mind also opens the barriers that come with everyone’s training. If the mind sees the way, the body goes to work and begins to pave the way.
The student must not be afraid of ha q work.
Hard work is the invisible source everyone admires. When you see a master or instructor with a great hook kick or flawless form, it is because hard work was one of the key ingredients, not magic and myth stories.
You must be willing to hang around people better than you.
My mom once said, “If you want to lift someone up, you must be higher than him or her. This then requires you to drop the ego of wanting to be better than others and become a student more often. If you surround yourself with people better than you, then you may reach higher levels.
Promise yourself to know a little bit more of your art.
Just as we conduct research before applying to a university, you should research a little the Martial Art in which you’re interested.
Sadly, we can’t treat life like training. We just get to live life. It’s a one-shot deal. Every day we compile and record what we do correctly and not so correctly.
Martial Arts, like life, need the same steps. Repeat what you want to be good at, think more and act second, admire hard work, and know that it pays off even when you can’t see it. Be around others whoare like-minded or better than you in the interest of you becoming better. The martial purpose is self and life improvement.