What does it mean to be a Black Belt?
Rank: Recommended Black Belt
The answer cannot be found in any search engine. The dictionary definition of Black Belt could not accurately describe what it means to be one.
When I took my first class, it was during the Summer of 2010. I had nothing better to do and a friend of mine had recently joined and wanted me to tag along. At first, I was shy about going, not knowing what to expect or what would happen. I had no clue what kind of people would be there, or if I would like it. After some encouragement from my mother I reluctantly accepted her offer.
When I arrived it felt like my feet were made of lead, having to drag myself behind my excited friend who was tugging me along by my arm.
As I stepped in, I was met with many different voices swarming my ears. It was hard to take in all at once.
As the class started, I stepped up to the mat, finding a white dot on the floor to stand by. After saying the school's tenets quietly under my breath and a quick warm up, I found myself overjoyed. I could not contain the smile that was spread across my face. When my fist connected with the paddle target for the first time, the sound it made fueled my happiness even more. The odd part about my joy is that I didn't know why I was feeling it, as few minutes ago I was a shaking ball of nerves.
When the class ended and I was called forth to receive my white belt. I cannot put into words how I felt.
I did not know at the time that I was going to be going to class after class, working my mind and body towards higher and higher ranks; getting sore in places I didn't know you could and heightening my mental abilities.
For a long time I thought that reaching a Black Belt would be the end of my journey in Taekwondo. I would have learned everything there was to know and move on. I had the idea that when I achieved my Black Belt I would be finished with my goals, that I would feel completely fulfilled and satisfied.
As I type this out I feel neither fulfillment nor satisfaction. I feel an ambition to continue along this path. I feel an ambition to grow and learn. I feel an ambition not just achieve higher ranks, but to hone myself into a better person. To strengthen my psyche, my body and character.
With Taekwondo, I have found traits like confidence, self discipline, a better attitude, persistence, honesty and responsibility. You cannot download these traits, acquire them through money, studying, or wishing. You get them through hard work, which is exactly what Taekwondo is.
What being a Black Belt means to me is using the skills you have acquired through dedication, and applying them to day-to-day situations. It means setting an example to lower ranks, but not being arrogant or full of yourself.
It means you have just begun a much longer journey.