Does it hold up your pants? Sometimes. Is it something to spank your kids with? Maybe. What is a Black Belt really?
You will get a number of different answers to this question. It depends on who you ask.
In most martial arts systems, a black belt signifies someone who has learned a certain amount of curriculum over a period of time (usually 4 years or more) and can perform the material in a satisfactorily manner as part of a physically and mentally demanding black belt test. That is the simple definition.
For me personally, it goes way beyond that. It really gets down to the character of the individual. You can be a fantastic martial artist and a jerk at the same time. I have known some of those over the years, maybe you have too.
A true Black Belt will have a humble attitude. They can certainly be proud of their accomplishment, but they won’t walk around with a “I am better than you” attitude. They won’t look down on those that are lower in rank than they are. They won’t forget that they once started as a white belt too.
A true Black Belt will have a willingness to help others in the dojo. They won’t view their status as superior and you can’t approach me. After all the word Sensei means teacher. When you become a Black Belt, your official title is Sensei. Senseis pass on their knowledge to others.
When someone earns a Black Belt, they have usually shown a tremendous amount of dedication, commitment, perseverance, hard work, blood, sweat, tears, a willingness to do what is asked of them and above all else, a teachable heart.
A true Black Belt will have a teachable heart. At the beginning of all our classes we say “Dozo Yorushiku” which translated means – “Please help me, I am teachable”. If someone is not teachable, you can’t help them because they know it already. But if they say it and mean it. The sky is the limit.
To put it simply, a true Black Belt is a White Belt that never quit… and the journey has just begun.