The Journey to Black Belt
The Journey to Black Belt – We are a Black Belt School
When I first started in the martial arts back in the late 1970’s, it was common to hear an instructor say to a student that only 1 in 1000 would make it to Black Belt. That statement was a source of pride. It meant that a Black Belt was to be truly honored. It meant that a Black Belt was not a common man (or woman). It was said with good intentions, but it did irreparable harm.
Anyone who is going to become a success in life needs to believe that they can become a success. If we tell our students that they only have a minuscule shot in the dark at becoming a Black Belt then that is what they will believe. It took many years to correct this line of thinking in the martial arts world. Our new line of thought is that we expect every student to become a Black Belt. We will teach them that way. There is nothing that can stand in our way of developing each student to reach this goal. We have not changed our rank structure or our testing requirements since the 1970’s. We have changed how we deliver these requirements.
Our instructors work hard to build up our students and to help them reach their goals. We go through rigorous teacher training and we meet weekly to make sure we are all on the same path. We review teaching strategies and we spend time discussing students as individuals. We want each student to succeed. We have come to learn, over the years, that there are many different ways to teach children, teens and adults. We deliver the lessons based on the age, rank and experience of each student.
We know that there are many parents who do not know that we always intend to have their child’s best interest at heart. We will take the time to earn their trust. It is usually somewhere around Green Belt when a parent starts to realize that we will do anything to help their child.
Similarly, adults come in to our dojo as White Belt students with a desire to succeed. We have learned that we have to guide them through the first three belts, before they start to learn how they are best suited to the martial arts. Some adults come in thinking that the only way to get a good workout is to sweat for an hour or more. Then they take that one class where we do everything really slow and they find that they are exhausted at the end and have very sore muscles the next day. If we can teach them to be patient and enjoy the process, then we are doing our job.
So, if you hear us talking to you about your promotions or your path to Black Belt, there is a great reason for that. It is OUR purpose. We know that when we put the Black Belt around you, whether it is 2.5 years or 6 years, you have learned how to develop yourself as a martial artist. We know as a beginner that we are responsible for your progress. As you get through the Green Belts and Brown Belts you begin to understand that your effort will determine your progress. When you reach Black Belt, we have said that you know how to get the job done. A Black Belt in our school is full of confidence and self-esteem. Often these characteristics are what you need to develop yourself in school or in your job. We are honored to be part of your personal journey to Black Belt and beyond.
Kathy Olevsky is an 8th Degree Black Belt who has been teaching martial arts classes in Raleigh, NC since 1980. She is an international speaker on Women’s Empowerment and the Business of running Martial Arts schools. Kathy writes a bi-monthly column for MA Success Magazine and has authored a book on self-defense, Take Control.