Last month about 60 Black Belts from Ripple Effect Martial Arts and Mile High Karate gathered in Johnstown, Colorado for a Black Belt Progress test. It lasted about four hours. Sparring, forms, exercises. Sweat. Sweat. Sweat. Horse stance till your thighs give out. Push ups till you feel like you’ve got a roadway on your back.
Why? Isn’t life after Black Belt all gravy and cream?
Some people come into martial arts thinking “Black Belt’s the goal.” And it is. As an initiating student, this is the attitude you’re geared to have. At first.
There’s also the big beyond. After all, what are you going to do with this? What’ll you bring from your Black Belt training to make the world better?
If you’ve earned your Black Belt, you’ve gotten stronger. You’ve committed to increasing your strength, your knowledge, in all kinds of ways. You’ve committed to teaching others, to giving back.
That’s what Black Belt progress means. It ain’t the status quo. It isn’t stationary, passive. Testers can tell you that.
Black Belt goes through first, second, third… all the way to tenth degree, in traditional systems. And what happens after tenth degree? Just ask Grandmasters Jeff Smith. Bill Wallace. Jhoon Rhee. There’s still a lot of life left. So many generations to inspire.
The Black Belt Summit in Estes Park is a test not only for prospective Black Belts but for martial artists, instructors, parents who earned their Black Belts years ago, and have chosen to continue in training.