People unfamiliar with martial arts expect the holder of a Black Belt to be some sort of super human. Unaware of the complete ranking system, they think that when a person attains the level of Black Belt they have reached the top….that the dark band around the person’s waist represents feats that no ordinary man dare attempt. To some extent, this is true. Materially, the Black Belt is a piece of cloth or canvas 1” to 4” wide, long enough to wrap around the persons waist twice and be tied in a knot. It is a label. It is a designation of expertise in a field. A Black Belt is part of a system of advancement.
The most important concept of the Black Belt is that the time it takes to reach a particular level doesn’t matter. It is the concept of the art and continued effort that will prove the individual’s success. It certainly is not a symbol of one’s ability to beat up the ordinary man on the street. One does not have to possess the best form or be the best fighter in class to become a Black Belt. You don’t have to be the tough kid on the block either. Each person has a different purpose for achieving a Black Belt. Consequently, each person will have developed some requirements of the Black Belt more highly than others. Some may be the best fighter with little understanding of the art. Others may be amazing technicians but do not like to fight. Some may be unable to become technically proficient due to physical or mental limitations but have the deepest understanding of the art.
The most important value in receiving a Black Belt is the mastery of one’s own conduct. It means the individual has enough control of himself to be a good example to others as a human being. The Black Belt has firm control over himself and his emotions. He/She weighs the consequences of his/her action and decides what the outcome should be. It is not a symbol of physical power but of character. The Black Belt will exhibit the tenets of Tae Kwon-Do: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit.
Lastly, the Black Belt is the key that opens the door to higher learning. Achieving the Black Belt is the moment that you are actually able to receive true martial art knowledge and techniques. It is when the individual really begins to learn their art. The problem is that we in Western civilization are so impressed by what it takes to become a Black Belt that we think it is the end…when it is only the beginning. Read that again…it is only the beginning.
Achieving a Black Belt in not nearly as important as what you BECOME in the process.