Congratulations and welcome to those of you who have made it to the world of the Black Belt. I am very proud of you and have always known you could do it. But there is still much to be learned and the are newer and even loftier goals to achieve. Black Belt rank is where the true training BEGINS, not ends.
Instead of learning new moves every couple of months, we will be taking what you know and developing it so that you can use it effectively and without thinking. If you dedicate yourself to your training as much now as you did to get here, you will see that your skills will grow quickly! The biggest obstacle to training at black belt, believe it or not, is the time requirements between testing.
As you are aware of the time you must remain the same rank now starts to grow. Too many people are tempted to slack off or not push themselves when they attain a new rank at Black Belt. Some even stop their training, feeling that they have achieved a goal they set for themselves and that once a black belt they will always remember and be able to do the skills they learned. This is a misguided notion. The time requirements set forth assume that you are training consistently and that you have learned your form almost immediately after testing. So the first thing you need to do in order to succeed at this level is to continue to come to class.
As the old adage goes, “Use it or lose it”! You still need to have short-term goals in order to motivate your training and stimulate the mind. Where do find them? Well, tournaments and camps for one. The entire reason we belong to a national organization is to help us develop the black belt student by having them test their skills against other students from around the country and to learn from other instructors. While we don’t require you to go to tournaments or go to camp (which many instructors do, by the way!) you NEED to participate. There is no substitute for preparation for camp or a tournament. Getting ready for a tournament makes us better at Taekwondo even if we don’t place first, second, or third. You are a better student just for participating. A black belt student should try and attend at least two of the four tournaments and camp that occur each year.
Lastly, when people find out you have a black belt they will act stupid around you. I have yet to figure out why, but it happens all the time. Whether they are making stupid yells or even try to test your skills, I have found that people just don’t understand what you have managed to accomplish. As a true martial artist, don’t let them upset you! They are nothing more than clowns. So do what you do when you see a clown. Laugh. You will be surprised how fast they realize by the display of your confidence and not your ability that they are pulling on a tiger’s tail and will leave you alone. Never try to prove yourself to people that don’t understand what it is you have accomplished, because you already proved yourself to those that know.
Thank you for your many hours of hard work and congratulations, I knew you could do it. Now, on to the next step!