The Character of a Black Belt
This month’s word of the month is Black Belt and I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the character traits and long term benefits of achieving this level in martial arts. While some styles don’t traditionally include a black belt, like Muay Thai for example, the concept is the same. You’re working toward a level of skill and self mastery that sets you apart from other practitioners. It’s important to be reminded of what you’re working toward as you travel along this journey. The road is long and challenging but the strength and character you develop in the process is invaluable.
I could probably write an entire book about the different character traits of a black belt (maybe that will be my next one, haha!), but for now I’ll just mention a few of my favorites.
- Discipline. I can’t emphasize enough how important this trait is and how it carries over into everything else in life. No matter what style you practice, it takes determination and discipline to commit to something long enough to reach the black belt level of excellence. The truth is many people never develop this level of self-discipline and it shows in their health, habits and even career performance. That’s not to say that someone who doesn’t practice martial arts can’t be disciplined, but the benefit of martial arts training is that discipline is built into the program. Mastering new skills takes time and practice, and ranking systems reward and recognize that effort thus encouraging continuous discipline and improvement.
- Focus. One thing I love about martial arts training is how it allows you to shut the world out and just focus and be present. We live in a world with a lot of noise and distractions and learning how to block out the chaos improves both performance and productivity. Developing this level of focus also allows you to perform under pressure and reduces stress and anxiety. This is why many black belts you see are calm and collected!
- Leadership. In order to effectively lead others, you must first be able to lead yourself. The focus on self-control and managing emotions in martial arts helps students develop patience and understanding toward others. Students learn what it takes to succeed in martial arts and can thus lead and encourage others to follow their good example.
- Resilience. Martial arts training teaches you how to overcome and bounce back from challenges and setbacks. Many times I’ve witnessed students struggle with a technique or board break that seems to defeat them in the moment. Perhaps it’s even an injury that prevents them from training at full capacity for a period of time. There’s a popular saying that if you can’t run, walk, and if you can’t walk, crawl but just keep moving. That’s exactly what students are encouraged to do in martial arts. They are taught that just because they don’t succeed at the time, doesn’t mean they won’t succeed later. When students run into these challenges or “fail” momentarily, they learn how to pick themselves up and keep moving forward.
Why martial arts is different from other sports and activities
Martial arts is unlike other activities and sports in several ways. For one, while you have a community and team of fellow students and instructors supporting you, the training is really about your own self-improvement and being the best version of yourself you can be. There’s no race to the top, for one student to achieve black belt doesn’t mean another student loses. It’s a personal journey to discovering your strengths and improving areas of weakness. There aren’t seasons or breaks in martial arts, it’s a constant process much like life. You can’t put a pause on career, family, health, etc. Yes there will be highs and lows, there will be days you want to quit, but sticking with martial arts teaches you how to endure those times and become stronger in the process.
The black belt lifestyle
The most successful students I know, and the ones who’ve made it to black belt, all understand one thing- martial arts is a way of life. A true martial artist conducts themselves differently. Their habits and lifestyle choices align with their training. They are mentally strong, have self-control, respect themselves and others, take care of their health, set and accomplish goals in all areas of their lives. Black belts find success not only in their training but in many other areas of life! With all of these benefits, can you see why black belt should be your goal?
Our goal at 7 Spears is that all of our students make it to black belt and beyond! Visit us to learn what it’s all about!
Stephanie Spears, Owner and Chief Instructor
The Black Belt Playbook
I created a training journal for our kids and teens to help track their progress and keep them motivated on the road to black belt. I wanted to provide a tool that would help with tracking goals and overcoming challenges that frequently occur at different stages of martial arts training. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can find more info here or pick up a copy at the studio! The Black Belt Playbook