Who Is A Black Belt?
The following was written by Steve Cordaro
and is read at the conclusion of every
First Degree Black Belt Test at Back Dragon Kenpo
Who Is A Black Belt?
You are a Black Belt!
If an instructor can guide a student to Black Belt, it is not the ego of the instructor that should be stroked but the accomplishment of the student that should be celebrated. We are here today to celebrate your accomplishment.
You have put in the time and effort. Through the years you have remained consistent in your training. You have trained through good days and bad days, enlightenment and frustration, good health and injuries and have always completed the material required for any given belt level. Balancing your time between commitment to your family, work and training.
Today you have shown all those present that you are in every way a Black belt. The exam you took today is a test of endurance, just as you have endured through the years to get to this day. Now you know that there are no shortcuts.
At your new rank it is important that you adhere to the seven principles of a Black Belt: Modesty, Honesty, Integrity, Courtesy, Perseverance, Self Control and Indomitable Spirit.
When you place your hand on a student's shoulder while explaining a technique or teaching a form, it must be placed there to guide and never to control.
Through techniques you've shown how well you are able to memorize and execute self defense moves. Defending yourself in any given situation.
Through forms you've shown the balance and harmony that you can achieve, both mentally and physically, in a martial art.
Through sparring you've shown that you can initiate action and quicken reaction time, reading your opponent's movements and opening up their defenses while still maintaining yours.
Through basics you've shown your capacity to correctly use your natural weapons with power and control.
Your personal form becomes a self expression of how you perceive movement and why the movements are being done.
Your thesis shows that a martial art can also relate to other parts of and interests in your life because Kenpo has become an important part of your life.
And, always remember, the best fight you will ever fight is the one you can walk away from, where no blows have to be thrown because your emotions have been tempered and you have used your most powerful weapon, your mind, to avoid conflict.
Those you have chosen to assist you on your test today should be congratulated on a job well done. They have dedicated their time and energy to help make your test a great success. Through the years strangers have become training partners and training partners have become friends. While the journey to Black Belt is an individual endeavor, there are many lives that are touched along the way. All one can hope for is that he, or she, has treated others fairly and with respect. And never forget, respect must be earned and never demanded. For respect that is demanded is shallow and meaningless.
Some feel that the bow at the beginning and end of class means that you are bowing to me out of respect for my rank when, in actuality, it is a reciprocal bow. You're bowing to me to thank me for teaching you and I'm bowing to you to thank you for allowing me to teach you.
If I can leave you with one thought today it would be this; When people come to you for training it starts with teaching them how to defend themselves and should end with having them believing in themselves. The lessons they learn here can be taken out of the studio and applied to every other part of their lives.
Today you believed in yourself. Others saw that belief and believed in you too. Today you are a Black Belt. I hope that the lessons learned here will transcend the symbol of a belt and always remain in the heart and soul of the person, because that is where the true Black Belt lies.