What A Black Belt Means To Me The Journey

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It’s often said in Martial Arts that the meaning doesn’t lie in how good you are or what belt you have, rather the meaning lies in the journey. Before I get into “What Black Belt Means To Me”, I would like to talk about my journey of these past few months.

The Journey

Last week I had flown to Nashville to test for my long awaited San Dan (3rd degree Black Belt – This is kind of like becoming an official “Teacher”). Prior to the test I had been training consistently since April of this year at a friends dojo and my local gym.

It had been about 5 years since I’ve last practiced my discipline, Wado-Ryu Karate-Do, so my recollection of the system was very vague. After watching numerous tapes of myself as a young martial artist, I had re-learned my under belt curriculum, however I was struggling to remember my black belt curriculum. If you know anything about martial arts, one’s under belt knowledge is essential because it is considered as the foundation of one’s training. On the other hand, a lot of people believe that your training truly begins when you achieve your first black belt. I couldn’t agree more. When I was promoted to Sho Dan (1st Degree Black Belt) my interpretation about Wado-Ryu and the martial arts had grown dramatically and I began to really learn.

Either way, I needed to know everything that could have possibly been thrown at me because it had been 10 years since my last official test.

In July, I went to Nashville to train with my highly recognized and beloved instructor Sensei Wayne Tyler. I consider him as a father figure in my martial arts career because of his vast knowledge of Wado-Ryu and unconditional love for his students and the art. Imagine being a scientist and your teacher was Albert Einstein – that is what it feels like to be under the wing of Sensei Tyler (or Mr. Tyler, as I call him). I was in Nashville training with Sensei 2 – 3 hours per day for 5 days. I caught up on my curriculum and took the extra knowledge that was passed down by him and applied it to my training back in Denver.

Again, since I didn’t know what to expect, I conditioned myself to be ready for almost anything. Not only was I practicing my basics and katas (Japanese forms), but I was also running 2 miles, three days per week, 15 – 20 minutes on the rowing machine and about 6 – 7 miles on the stationary bike. I don’t think I could have been more prepared for this test.

I successfully passed my test and was promoted to San Dan on October 17th 2006. I must say, this was one of my greatest accomplishments in my martial arts career and a dream come true. It has taken me several years to reach this goal, but it has reinforced my interpretation of being a black belt, or in my case – San Dan.

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