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What does it mean or what does it symbolize, the black belt?

Today I read a wonderful post on "What Does a Black Belt Mean?" so I am going to not only provide a link to that post by John Coles Sensei of the Kojutsukan blog but my thoughts as well.

Many of the things quoted and mentioned in the post speak volumes to my views on this subject. First, being a black belt, specifically sho-dan, does not mean or make one an expert. Using some insight from Coles Sensei here is what I feel denotes the belts we wear:

1st Kyu brown belt is like moving or graduating from middle school to high school. To be awarded sho-dan is tantamount to graduating from high school. It does not guarantee the privilege of entering into college or university (that is another whole post on its own). If one is allowed to participate in the college/university levels then to earn San-dan is to graduate with a degree from college/university - an undergraduate. Again, no guarantee that you will attend grad school here either.

Now, to attain a graduate degree of say a PhD or Masters means you have attained the level of roku-dan. Between san-dan and roku-dan one may or may not be accredited the ability to "teach, mentor or instruct" in the system, style or branch of martial art.

If allowed to gain entrance into upper education in martial arts one can achieve a degree and the experience necessary to be awarded the levels of shichi-dan, hachi-dan, ku-dan and ju-dan, i.e. like taking the requirements the the residency necessary to be a doctor.

This is how I envision the belt system with emphasis on the black belt system. One knows instinctively in the martial arts that the label "black belt" covers far more than that first one, sho-dan. Even if the system, style or branch practiced uses the paneled belts and red belts not to forget all those other colors used depending on the systems, etc. that the black belt actually covers, fundamentally, all ten levels of the dan grades.

Making, earning or the award of the sho-dan black belt simply states that one has entered the beginning and is no longer a novice but now a deshi, a practitioner or a disciple, your choice as to perception.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout out. Good to see intelligent discussion over what a black belt means.