Beginning along any journey is an exciting time, and for martial artists, the beginning of the journey is White Belt. At the start of the journey, the student has no knowledge of the martial arts, and so everything is new, and skills are gained in every class. Progress is rapid at this time, as there is so much to learn and every lesson uncovers new ideas, new techniques, and new ways of moving.
Training in martial arts is not a seasonal activity. Students enroll at any time they feel ready, and their Instructors plan for them to continue training at least until they achieve their Black Belts, and hopefully longer still.
Starting on the journey is the first step to success. Once the student has taken that first step, the Instructors will take the students to Black Belt. It will take time, it will take work, it will take sweat, but all students can achieve a Black Belt. The only thing that will prevent a student from achieving a Black Belt is if they stop their training.
This is an important thing to realize. Any student who has the determination to stick with it, and who turns up to class, can be successful in martial arts. They will learn control over their bodies and over their minds as they continue to practice and develop their martial arts. The thing to know about training at Fire Phoenix Martial Arts is that attending classes is enough. Students can choose to do extracurricular events and activities, practice at home and read and study about the Arts. This will all enrich the student’s training experience, however, it is not necessary. Coming to class, and being actively present in the class is enough. Students will learn and they will become experts at their Art, with time.
The missing factor is time. It takes time to develop the experience needed to control the body and the mind. Students will progress at different rates through their martial arts training. This is normal and to be expected. Students should learn to enjoy the practice of martial arts, and not rely on the external rewards of belt colors in order to feel good about their training. White belts, who stick with their training for long enough, will gain the expertise, knowledge, and skills they need to master their Black Belt exam.
At different points in our training, it is interesting to reflect back on that beginning stage of the martial art, the white belt. There is a lot of excitement, a sense of achievement as new skills are learned each class at white belt, however as we progress, we can sometimes get very caught up in the challenges of the belt we currently have, and the belts to come. When we are focused like this on pushing forward, we can easily forget how far we have come. It is a useful exercise to try and cast our minds back to the beginning stage, and remember the excitement of starting out on our martial arts journey. This can help us keep our eyes on the whole picture – how far we have come as well as how far we want to go.
Sometimes circumstances make it inevitable that we stop our training. We may become injured, move away from our Dojo, or work and family commitments become overwhelming. Sometimes, however, we stop though because we give up on ourselves. We start to listen to our doubts about our own abilities. We compare ourselves to other students and conclude that we come up short. We find fault with the system, the instructor, our fellow students for our perceived lack of progress, instead of understanding that we are simply not there yet.
Not quite being there yet is not the same as not being able to get there. In a society where instant gratification is possible with almost everything, there are a few things that stand out as requiring time and effort to achieve them. Martial arts is one of them, and it is the very difficulty and perseverance that is required that makes the Black Belt such a rewarding outcome.
It is here, where we feel doubt, that we need to use our character, our discipline to look past the frustrations of the moment to the long-term view. When we start our martial arts training as a white belt, we have a vision in our head of what martial arts will be about. We imagine some of the amazing skills and techniques we will learn, and we are overwhelmingly positive about our ability to get there in the end and to persevere. If we can tap into that beginner’s mind we can overcome many of the small setbacks on our path. These setbacks become small hills on the way up the mountain that is our goal – be become proficient in the martial arts, to become a Black Belt.
The attitude of not giving up is one that can be applied to many endeavors in many areas of our lives. What is encouraging is it can become a habit, the habit of not giving up. Starting in the martial arts has the clear and obvious path of the belt system from white belt to Black Belt. Other areas of our lives have less clearly marked signposts, which can make it easier to become lost, lose our way and give up on our dreams.
If, though, we cultivate the habit of not giving up, we can achieve almost anything we set our heart on, given the time and the effort. Black Belts are held in high esteem because of the difficulty of achieving them. If it was possible to instantly achieve a Black Belt after completing a short course, there would not be the same level of pride in the achievement. It would be worthless because the value we give to a Black Belt, as to any goal, is in the effort we have taken to achieve it.
To keep on track for our goals and dreams, it is important to sometimes pause along the path, and search back to the beginner’s mind for the enthusiasm and belief to keep going, and the hindsight to notice just how far we have come along the path to achieving our goals.