So how do you get a Black Belt?
Receiving a Black belt in martial arts can come about in many ways. But, first you need to choose a martial art that actually has a graded system that includes belt ranks.
Judo, Kung Fu, Jiu Jitsu, Karate and Taekwondo are just a few of the martial arts that have a belt system. Different martial arts require different requirements to be awarded a black belt.
Some schools allow students to progress through their ranks merely based upon attending a certain amount of classes or a minimum time. This method is generally used to maintain student enrolment, and move students through a system in a timely manner, ensuring a high retention rate.
Other schools have a prescribed attainment of skill that must be met through dedicated training before being able to progress through the belt system. It is important to note here that, no one student is the same. Students have different co ordination levels, movement capabilities, flexibility and a host of other personal differences that effect their own individual abilities. Martial arts training is an individual pursuit, great schools, and instructors, know how to get the best out of each individual in their journey towards their black belt.
Martial arts requires continual dedicated training and when a student starts as a white belt, it can be the beginning of a very rewarding and life changing journey. Skill is attained by minutes on the mat, engaged in conscious focused practice. Skill is not measured in the number of years you have been enrolled in a Martial Arts school. Each training session you attend helps you refine skills that are inching you toward becoming a better Martial Artist.
Your goal may be to attain a Black Belt. But, Black Belts come in many different levels with various levels of skill acquisition. Different styles have different requirements for their black belt gradings. Although a Black Belt may not be your main reason for starting a martial art, you may wish to consider a schools requirements for a black belt before beginning training with them. You may feel that the requirements for a black sash are not aligned with what you imagine a black sash should be. Or, you may find that the martial art requires more dedication than you thought. If you do wish to wrap a black belt around your waist, you may want to feel like you can defend yourself and show the martial spirit expected of a Black Belt.
The Belt System
Coloured belts, or sashes, are merely a way to track your progress through a martial art. They do not necessarily mean you are better or worse than somebody else. Your journey is your own, and it should be focused on continual personal development in your martial art. A student should always be focused on their skill, ability and what they want to achieve. They should never be comparing themselves to others as a way to test or measure their skill. There will always be someone better, or worse than you. Measuring your success against others is a path of the lesser artist and of the Ego.
A belt, or a belt colour, is only valued by the effort that was applied to earn it. If you achieve a belt level based upon your focus, discipline and hard work you will be rewarded with the knowledge of what you did to earn it. The colour represents your journey in a system.
From your first belt all the way to your coveted black belt, your dedication over many years will be the true reward when you wrap that belt around your waist. You want to feel like you earn a Black Belt, it should not feel like it is given for just turning up.
Your Black Belt
If you were to train 3 to 5 times a week you may earn a black sash in three to six years. If you trained 1-2 classes per week it could take eight years or more. The formula is fairly simple. I you wish top get a Black Belt faster train more and harder. Mastery is the goal of traditional martial arts. Mastery takes discipline and commitment in any of the popular martial arts. The refinement of your techniques and skill should be the goal of your training. The reward for your effort will be the Black Belt.
Martial arts instructors
It may sound obvious but… find a martial arts school with instructors who have a good track record of getting people to their Black Belt. You certainly won’t be able to do it on your own. Having passionate, helpful and talented instructors to help you on your journey will go a long way to assisting you with your hard work and practice.
Your fellow students can play a big role in helping you reach your goal of becoming a Black Belt. After all, it is them you will be training with, partnering with, and asking for help around the instruction you receive. True Martial artists will always be willing to help you out in class, in fact most senior students usually give up part of their own training time to help if required.
The Journey to becoming a Black Belt
From the day students start, they begin on a journey that will be challenging and rewarding. It is important to remember why you go to class, the benefits you get from the classes, and the skill you are acquiring as you learn. Sometimes, if your focus is only on reaching the Black Belt Level, it takes over your training mentality. You can forget about the improvements you have made, and the things you have already learned. Remember to enjoy the journey and give yourself credit for the work you have already a achieved since becoming a white belt.