No, I am not. I have never been truly comfortable wearing a black belt. It holds a special meaning to me and to this day I have difficulty wearing it in front of people. When the day came I was told that I could wear a red and white paneled belt. I had more ease wearing that then the black belt. I suspect it was because on some subconscious level it relieved me of wearing the black belt. The black belt can be intimidating.
I used this mind-set to remind me to leave my comfort zone. I try to do that as much as possible without going so far that my health suffers for it, i.e. anxiety, stress, etc. I want it to be beneficial so I can use it in the proper context. As I assumed higher levels of the black belt I would have a bit more apprehension when I would put my obi on.
Is this because psychologically I am placing too much emphasis on the power of an inanimate object? Am I giving this symbol too much power and importance? It depends on just how much I give it and how much I allow it to cause discomfort. I believe the discomfort is a positive thing much like my use of it as a reminder to live outside the comfort zone as needed.
I do feel that the black belt is given way to much importance in the dojo and in the martial arts community. Other than the importance that an individual decides to give it for themselves it is not all that important in the community itself simply because it is an individual perception and perspective and that is the way it should be for that person.
The black belt in essence is simply a symbol that a person has reached a level of knowledge, experience, training and practice that says they are a serious practitioner. It symbolizes their personal commitment to their efforts in this discipline. It is also a symbol that signifies the obligation one assumes as it relates to their commitment to the system and the relationship with others in the same discipline. It can be a symbol that one has committed themselves to their betterment and the leadership that assume to provide example to others who may want to follow the systems path, the same path as the black belt wearer is walking. It symbolizes a huge responsibility to the individual that transcends the self, the ego and the pride of that individual.
The black belt symbolizes a desire for constant improvement not only in the system but in the self and through actions and deeds influence those who choose to associate and dedicate themselves to a discipline.
When I put on the black belt I often think of my responsibilities to others and to myself and am humbled by the immensity of that commitment and the resolve I have to meet it. It reminds me that I still have a way to go and that I have come far. When I think of the black it symbolizes the blackness of the space that surrounds the entire universe that has not true measurable depth or breadth but limitless and all encompassing. The fact that we create a circle, a circle symbolized infinity, with it around our waste, hara, we are reminded along with the blackness of the belt that it is all encompassing, vast, huge and immeasurable. The same is said to where we were, where we are and where we are going.
So, yes, the discomfort I feel every time I put a black belt on speaks to me of things that are important to what I do, say and believe. It is a culture and belief that supports and supplements my life and how I live it. Yet, it is just a cloth colored black that wraps twice around my waist giving me the discomfort yet supporting and holding me fast to my commitment to be the best I can be and to pass that along to whomever chooses to listen.
Black belt, not much but still a lot. Depends on you and how you look at things. I talk to much!