Friday, August 31, 2012

The purpose of the Belts

We had our second of two Adult Graduations tonight, for our karate program. The certificate had this quote on it:

Accuracy is the twin brother of honesty; inaccuracy, of dishonesty.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

For this last month were were teaching ours students, dans and color belts alike, that intellectual honesty demands that they can do the techniques right, and the only way to:

1) Do them right is training, which is what our forms are designed to to; program proper stance and movements into our bodies. What good is technique if your application of it requires massive thought before action.  Repetition unto the point where you can not move wrongly allows you to apply your mind to the greater situation and the moral imperatives that always arise in a self defense situation.  Knowledge over Power is not a mental exercise, but an earned skill, based on training.

2) Test the results  is in realistic scenarios.  What good is technique if it does not work? Testing your technique in various real life situations both shows you that your training is valid and where your weaknesses are.

Without these two steps, we are not being honest with ourselves.  Accuracy is required in the martial arts, and it demands of us honesty in actions and opinions.

The result of this cycle of training and testing is belt rank. At each level the required accurate repetition of techniques and the realistic testing of those techniques is elevated. At our school, we demand both an expansion of an required techniques as taught in many areas, including forms, and the improved execution of basic techniques which are the foundation of our entire system.

For us, testing for first degree black belt is not just a repetition of material taught over the years it takes to get there, but the realistic testing of those techniques in situations that they both have seen before and situations they have never seen before.  They need to know, before putting a Black Belt on, how well trained they are, and we need to guard the gates of black belt, so as not to lower the standards for this generation or the past generations of black belts both in our system and without.

First Day of Adult Graduations Summer '12
Notice the Camaraderie
Having said that, pride in accomplishment and social interaction with others on the same path.  Martial Arts training is difficult, at best, and knowing and trusting others on the same path is necessary.  Do not be afraid to encourage an atmosphere that facilitates the environment of success, fun and shared effort.

Martial Arts are alive and well in America.  We help others achieve personal safety, fitness, and a measurable degree of physical power.  Teach them to use it to help others with humility, and we will make the world a better place together.

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