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Which is most important, the black belt? or the black belts attitude?

I was watching a video news segment on a Chuck Norris program where the instructor mentioned "black belt attitude" which prompted this post. I feel he spoke well regarding what is most important for all of us as martial artists, "attitude!"

There are many other sub-traits, i.e. maturity, responsibility, respect, etc., that follow that title and to actually make direct reference to it in the segment, in the dojo and in the life is far more critical to black belt development that it should be a mainstay of instruction from white belt to red.

What is attitude? It is two things in general, it is a way of thinking or feeling and it is also a position the body takes to convey through body language a mental state or to imply some action is to be taken. I tend to think of both mental and "kamae." Kamae being a transitional position of the body to take some form of action but in the case of the martial artist "not implying or conveying" intent. An opposite to the actual definition of the physical attitude meaning.

An attitude is driven by more than the influences of the martial training hall. It begins much earlier in one's life. It can be either Yang or Yin using that metaphor of Yang=bad, Yin=good. There of course in reality a balance of both since humans have both as a part of human being.

It is a complex mental state that involves feelings, i.e. emotional with chemical infusions due to those feelings, values, i.e. personal belief systems, dispositions toward actions, i.e. as driven by the other states, and overall beliefs. These are building within each of us from the moment after birth when our brains begin actual awareness to life and the worlds around us.

The physical aspects are subliminally taught and learned in life which result in the posing, position or arrangement of the body and limbs that are also subliminally interpreted to mean some attitude which inspires an effect on either party.

All one can do in the dojo is try to present another perspective relating to such attitudes that hopefully inspire individuals to incorporate the more Yin aspect of attitude which presents positive influences on the individual and to the group and as a whole society.

If one is provided a black belt without this influence then the belt becomes a symbol of something that may or may not be the original intent of the system. It can be strictly combative without an attitude of compassion or with one. To dominate or to benefit. One might ask, "marital arts are intended to dominate and win, right?" I say, no - it is a means to overcome dominance and damage and to instill an attitude that conveys peace and tranquility with a posture and attitude that speaks to those who would dominate and damage that it would be to their benefit to not dominate and damage others.

How many teach proper attitude? How many demonstrate proper attitude in their actions and deeds, in the dojo and outside it? How many actually contemplate such things before, during and after practice? How may actually look inward before looking to others for proper attitude resulting in proper action?

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