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Being a Black Belt

Being a black belt in a martial art has become an impressive status symbol. The question “What does being a black belt mean to you?” was posed as a discussion topic. Here are some of the many responses.

Clarence Sheets: This means I don’t have to have a rope to keep my pants up.

Jeremy Drenning: I was a wrestler first, so not much. No belts in wrestling. You just work.

Steven Taylor: It means I now fully represent my school and my teacher, and however, I act will be reflected on those who trained me.

Jim Nagy:  black belt to me, means a thorough understanding of the basics (I’m assuming you mean shodan, … first level) I agree with a lot of what Nick Moralez has written as well. Representing your style, your school, and all. A good bit of truth to that. Also, I’ve heard that the word sensei can be translated to mean: “one who has been there before.” So I see a black belt as one who is attempting to educate and possibly enlighten someone else who is ignorant in what the black is skilled in.

Lori Biletnikoff: I got my black belt at 56. To me, it was a long journey. I stayed with it even though I had anL4/L5 fusion, 2 knee surgeries, another back surgery, a hand & foot surgery in between all the training. It took me 8 years but I did it…Plus I have exercise-induced asthma…Yes yes know I’m a wreck….lol.

Nick Moralez: It is a huge responsibility since it is a black belt’s job to teach the students proper effective techniques to protect themselves and others if anything should ever happen in their daily lives. Whenever I compete in tournaments I am there representing myself and my school so I must show proper protocol and respect to everyone at the tournament fellow competitors, their instructors, and the spectators. It is just the beginning so much more to learn at black belt ranks and even more to teach to lower black belt ranks as well.

Chris McDaniel: To me, it means one has got the basics down… Now time to learn more techniques…

Alistair Adamson: Responsibility in giving back to my club what they gave to me, it was hard-earned and as a senior instructor. The responsibility is being a benchmark to my fellow instructors and students!

Char Musillo: Holds my pants up. In traditional styles, it means you have mastered the basics. It’s a starting point not an ending point.

John Ives: From the very first lesson with the beginners’ belt. To the grading for the honor of wearing the coveted black belt years later. It made me the man I am calm and collected.

Stephen Harvey: It means that I’m the baldest man on earth and could beat up Mike Tyson. (Joking)…

Steve Young: It means that I’ve learned enough that I realize I don’t know much…

Russ McWhorterFor me… it meant achieving a goal… I now had the basics off of which to build myself into a better fighter and a better person. I knew even then; it wasn’t the end but only the beginning…

Daniel Horák: Without respect, this- the black belt – means nothing!

Justin Quaid: It means absolutely nothing. I have a black belt in San Soo. Originally Jimmy Woo didn’t have belts, but he adapted it to compete with the commercialization of karate at the time. I’ve been training in Filipino Pangamot for 24 years and not once have I’ve seen a belt. Bruce Lee didn’t have any black belts. The black belt is a commercialization for the west taking from Japan. In China there are no belts.

Nicholas Slayden: That you mastered the basics and finally beginning to learn what it means to be a real martial artist.

Bob Howell: That the white belt was never washed.


Charlie Gell: It means I can stop worrying about what belt I am and focus on enjoying the art.

Joseph Woodward: Being a black belt is a way of life. Not just a rank in martial arts.

Marko Hyytiäinen: Nothing anymore, when i got it in 1994 i was waiting at least be next from god and be immortal and ninja, now i know that means nothing, because you can get grades from cereal boxes, it’s just means that you know how to tie your belt right.

Rick Davies: It means it’s a little more embarrassing to still be a beginner.

Harjit Singh: It means you’ve excelled in the art you’ve studied. To the standard set by the founder. However, whether you’re ready for real street combat… that’s a separate matter.

Mikee MaTechno: Self-improvement and skill development is now a truly personal goal with great expectations.

John Hill: A lifestyle like no other, allowing me to lead by example for a better world.

Thomas Carroll: It means I can teach and I can fight! Osu.

Edilberto Santos: The beginning of understanding the mental and spiritual aspect of The martial arts . Not just physical training!

John Moriarty: It holds your pants up and you’re a master of the basics of that martial art.

Mauro Kalule Bustamante: Means nothing, it’s just a belt… what really means is the effort we put in being worthy of using it…

Robert Chambers: It means years of endless studying and grueling work, tempered with patience, self-discipline & respect for life… have culminated to the point that I can now become a student.

David North-Martino: It means you’re an advanced beginner. Earning a black belt means you’ve reached the beginning, and can now really begin to learn the art.

Tyree Bell: To me, everything before receiving my Black Belt/Sash was preschool. Once I earned it, that was the beginning of kindergarten. I was able to achieve and grow my skills.

Stephan Glanzl: Responsibility! Being a good role model for my Kohai and representing my Style/Sensei/Dojo… Osu!

Rabie Lkl: Strength…calm…experience…discipline…knowledge…

Tom Smotherman: Understanding of how to overcome me!

Mitch Mitchem: It means I have so much more to learn.

André Sanarov: Feels awesome to know you’ve come a long way studying “Shaolin Kempo “.

Dan Carroll: Attractive women will notice me.

Jack D Williams Jr: Once you get your 1st black bell, it’s time to really start learning the art of being a warrior, I am 76 today and I am still learning about life. It’s fun, enjoy life.

Tim W. Leonard: It means you know the basics. Now the learning begins.

Jesse Guzzetti: Striving for excellence in all that I do! And BB is just the beginning!

Gunnar Davis: It means the true journey has only begun.

Anthony Hayes: My patience and persistence paid off… I was so close… but found the San Diego beach and wacky tobacky LOL.

Dishan Dev Thakur: Self-motivated & satisfied …. Nothing else.

Jackie Harrah: Only has meaning and a relationship with its owner. Means nothing to anyone else.

Sean Cardenas: It means the work has just begun.

Derrick Bouges: It means I know a thing or two about throwing a punch or a kick.

Ertan Zeki: It means I’ve stayed on a path of truth . . . for a long time. If I stray, it always brings me back.

Jim Christian: The challenge was given to me when graded was never to cease growing in this martial art, physically and spiritually.

Phillip McKnight: It means that you’re participating in a martial arts economy.

David Storey: Getting a black belt is easy, keeping it is the hard part.

Ravi Suman Ludreta: Black belt means a responsible a disciplined and brave personality. your dedication makes you superb and extraordinary and mentally and physically fit.

Charles Arnold: It’s a reminder to me that I am to be the example of dedication, modesty, courtesy, integrity, self-control, and the indomitable spirit for those who look up to me.

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