Tips to earn your Black Belt

iron-mantis-2mEvery martial arts instructor’s goal is to develop Black Belt students.  Our dream is that each of our students will one day earn this honor.  Unfortunately, the reality is that not everyone will succeed.  While there may be numerous reasons why an individual deviates from his or her path to reach Black Belt, most of them are direct opponents (or enemies) of student commitment.

Can you remember an instance in your life when you had good intentions of following through on a goal but somehow it didn’t get done?  This happens to all of us from time to time.  Whatever initially causes a student’s commitment to become a Black Belt to waver, it is very easy to allow additional factors to compound the problem and jeopardize his or her continued progress.  This in turn leads to further decreased commitment.  It is actually a vicious cycle of causes and effects.

It will be easier to stay committed to your Black Belt goals if you can recognize in advance what has the potential to steer you off the track.  Being aware of the possibility will allow you to consciously re-focus and re-establish your commitment to become a Black Belt.

iron-mantis-eNo matter what we do, there are only 24 hours in a day.  It is not difficult to run out of time to do the things that we have committed to do.  Time management is a crucial skill that all people should learn in order to balance and prioritize their commitments.  By doing so, you will find that there can be sufficient time to honor your priorities.  Think of the benefits that you are receiving as a student of the martial arts and how important they are to you.  Self-defense, exercises for better health, confidence, and family time are among the benefits that probably rank very high on your list.  Time management skills will help you attend your scheduled martial arts classes and continue your training.

There may be instances during class when the material or techniques are difficult to learn.  This may be discouraging and may make you re-think your ability to achieve Black Belt.  But every Black Belt has had to overcome these obstacles, and you can too.  If you are having trouble, see your instructor as soon as possible.  Often, a little one-on-one advice can go a long way.  Practicing at home or with a fellow student can also make the learning process quicker or easier.  Here’s a simple tip I learned during training that you can also try:  teaching!  When you break down a technique to show it to someone else, the technique often becomes clearer to yourself.  Try this and teach it to a family member or your best friend.

iron-mantis-osWhile many students can attend class or workout everyday, other students suffer from student burn-out.  It is important to train at a pace that will optimize your progress.  How much?  The martial arts are an individual activity and only you can determine your optimal workout time.  Just be aware that you can overdo even a good thing.  Remember, an apple a day will keep the doctor away…but if you eat two dozen apples a day, you will probably need a doctor!

Achieving Black Belt does not signify the end of your martial arts journey.  Instead, the Black Belt is a symbol of your hard work, dedication, and your success in following through on your Black Belt commitment.  It recognizes the proficiency of skill you have developed during your training.  This achievement will lay the foundation on which you will develop master skills in the future.  But, most importantly, your Black Belt is the first step to attaining this higher learning.  So keep on kicking and never give up!

– Jeff Hughes