Whenever anyone walks into a training hall ready to sign up for lessons, their first thought is that they’re ready to dig in and get that black belt. However there are some amazingly common myths about the quest for a black belt that are worth talking about, and clearing up!

1.  You’re given a black belt by a master.

A black belt isn’t something that anyone can give you, it’s something that you earn. Even more than that, a black belt is something that you become (more on that later). Yes, it takes a certain level of rank in order to award a black belt to another person, but your rank as a martial artist is far less dependent upon what someone else gives you, than it is on your ability to create this for yourself.

2.  A black belt makes you a killing machine.

We’ve all seen the exciting martial arts movies where black belt martial artists run around taking out opponents left and right. First off, even though martial arts might look violent from the outside, it’s actually not about violence at all, it’s about control. What a black belt makes you isn’t a killing machine, it makes you in control of yourself. Physical dominance isn’t the only ingredient in the recipe, nor is it necessarily the most important.

3.  When you get a black belt, you’re finished training.

This is a HUGE one! Just because you get a black belt doesn’t mean that you’re a martial artist or that your training is done.  In fact there is so much more beyond that first black belt. All martial arts systems have rank that goes beyond the first degree black belt, and in most of them that training doesn’t centre primarily on further development of physical skill but rather of teaching and innovation. Think of a black belt like a high school graduation – it means that you’ve accomplished something huge and important in your life, but now you have the chance to go on to university to refine those skills and gain more depth in your training.

4.  A black belt is a destination.

A black belt isn’t about that moment when you get there, it’s about the journey to get there. The presentation itself isn’t the good stuff. The hours of training, the self sacrifice, the humility, the control and the camaraderie are what make the black belt worthwhile. Don’t think of a black belt as the ice cream, but rather as the cherry on top of the ice cream.

5.  You’ll be the same person once you’re a black belt.

The belt itself really doesn’t mean much of anything, again it’s the journey that it takes to get there that has meaning. By the time you get there, the black belt itself pales in comparison to the changes you’ve found within yourself. At the end of the black belt journey, you aren’t who you were at the beginning. In fact it’s often difficult to recognize that white belt back in the distance. You’re a stronger, more focused, better equipped version of that person who first started. And life seems easier to navigate and less daunting to you now than it did before. In truth, the quest for a black belt is one of transformation.

A black belt goes well beyond the piece of fabric that ties around the waist – it’s SO much more!