We have two new black belts in our dojo and every time students trade in their worn green belts for shiny new black ones, I reflect on what it takes to get there. After all, 98% of people who start a martial arts program do not achieve this.
No two journeys to black belt are the same. Each person starts from a place that is unique and has their own obstacles – physical, emotional and psychological – to overcome.
But they do all have some things in common. They do not give up, they do not make excuses and they make sacrifices to train.
Their biggest secret is that that they find reasons to train rather than excuses not to train. At some point life will throw obstacles in the way of even the most dedicated martial artist. Work commitments may increase, family responsibilities will loom, health issues will arise – all of which can make it hard to get to training.
This is what makes many people stop training. They have a busy period at work, for example, miss a couple of weeks training and then it all gets too hard to start again. Those who succeed who are those who accept that they may have to miss those two of training but always return to the dojo as soon as they can.
It is that persistence that delivers the results. It is the understanding that while the black belt may be the romantic fantasy, there is nothing romantic about the path to it which is consistent training week in and week out. Developing this understanding is the martial arts equivalent of growing up. It is a lesson that is as true in life as it is in the dojo.
Is it worth it? Have a look at the smiles in the photograph above and you tell me.