Brandon Profile

In my previous entry, I was writing about “perception” in regards to students and families. We were discussing, if you will, the different paths our martial arts journey may take, as students, families, and instructors depending on how we view and perceive the world around us, and how we allow that to affect our attitude toward our journey. Be it student, teacher, or parent. I’d like to continue with that topic, and move into its next phase, which would be “value”.

How do you define the value you place on something? Are precious metals or gemstones precious for any other reason other than our perception that we place on them? The concept of value is a funny thing, because it is difficult to pin down, and it evolves and changes over time. To a child, the value of ice cream is vastly higher than an adult, in most cases. To an adult, the Mona Lisa holds a vastly higher value than to a child. WHY? Simply because we believe it.

One of the things I’ve continually run into over the years, is the question of how valuable a “black belt” really is. From my experience, that is completely placed upon the individual, and what they believe. I’ve heard many times, from many arm chair black belts, about how they feel that children shouldn’t be able to test or receive a black belt. I’ve also heard from many instructors of different martial arts programs, that they didn’t believe in issuing black belts to anyone under “X” age. I’ve even heard of one family complaining to their instructor about the amount of training one school required, versus another school, for the same rank within the same organization.

First, for the arm chair black belt who has never instructed children, why do you feel qualified to decide who should or shouldn’t be allowed to wear a black belt? I understand the argument that a child age black belt would not be able to defend themselves against an adult, but what child really has the ability to defend themselves effectively against a determined skilled adult? They lack the size, power, strength, and speed to fairly stand against an adult in almost every case. But, if you were to put that same child up against a child of roughly the same size or age bracket, now those black belt skills make an entire world of difference. It is an unfair comparison to place a child’s skill level against an adult while using the exact same standards. Would you say your child shouldn’t be allowed to play baseball because they are unable to hit a homerun on a Major League ball field?

Here is what people, in general, don’t understand. The black belt doesn’t matter. It is just a color. Well, that isn’t exactly true. The color belts do have important significance representing parts of your training, and are vital for goal setting. But that is NOT what I’m addressing. We are talking about PERCEPTION, and the VALUE attached to the belt color. What the “black belt” represents does revolve around a certain set of physical skills, and if a student is able to demonstrate those skills, with knowledge and ability, along with the mental understanding (age accounted for) why should they not be able to hold the rank? But in all honesty, and more importantly, being a black belt has SO MUCH MORE to do with what is going on INSIDE, not OUTSIDE. Yes, being a skilled martial arts technician is important. Yes, being a good fighter is important. Yes, speed and power, and flexibility, and terminology and on and on and on ... all important. But, not as important as what is going on inside. Becoming a black belt is more than all those physical attributes. Becoming a black belt is the vehicle that moves you. It is a way of

life. It is how that individual has decided to view the world and their place in it. It is the thought process they apply to daily challenges. The confidence they display in everyday life; holding their head up; looking you in the eye when they speak; demonstrating the ability to think for themselves in a positive way. Demonstrating RESPECT. You can’t measure those skills. How do you set a “value” to that? What price tag or dollar amount is that worth, as a student, or more importantly, as a parent?

You can’t wrap any color belt around the true core of what makes that individual who they have become.

To Be Continued... 

© Aim and Focus Karate 2019