What it means to be a Black Belt ?
What does it mean to be a Black Belt? By definition the meaning of Black Belt is, “Opposite of white, therefore, signifying the maturity and proficiency in Tae kwon do” (Gen. Choi Hong Hi, 1999, pp. 373). As any Black Belt would know, the journey towards gaining a Black Belt is a long and arduous undertaking, and every individual who undertakes this journey, will have their own perspective on what being a Black Belt really means.
As an Instructor and Examiner I have heard many Black Belts talk about their experiences. Most speak of many hours of training and practice, others describe their Black Belt grading, and others even describe the extra benefits of becoming a Black Belt. In the case of one recently graded Black Belt who trained for nearly six years before finally gaining Black Belt status. He was a Black Tab (1st Kup) for two years. He said that he never really knew why he waited so long, mentioning that he often told himself that it wasn’t really that important or that he wasn’t ready. It wasn’t until after a conversation with a close friend and senior training partner of his at one of our Dojang’s that he finally decided to do his grading. She told him that getting your Black Belt wasn’t just a symbol of your training. She said that she couldn’t explain it but you change, you feel different and people see you differently. After that he booked his grading and had six months to prepare. Like everyone else he spent hours in the garage laying into bags and repeating patterns a thousand times. For six months he trained with one goal in mind, waiting for that day to come.
Upon returning to training the week after the grading, everyone congratulated him. Many of the Black Belts asked how it went. He jokingly told them about seven hours in the heat and about getting really hungry during the grading. At that point he said that he felt no different, he didn’t feel like a Black Belt. Shortly afterwards a group of juniors came running up to him. They all wanted to see and touch the new belt. It was then when a young yellow belt looked up at him and said, “Wow, some day can I be like you? Can I be a Black Belt?” It was that moment that he knew what his friend had tried to tell him, he knew then what it meant to be a Black Belt………………….