When you begin to feel like you are a tough guy, a warrior, a master of the martial arts or that you have lived a tough life, just take a moment and get some perspective with the following:
I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me
I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me
I've dodged as someone tried to put an ax in my skull
I've fought screaming steel and left rubber on the road to avoid death
I've clawed broken glass out of my body after their opening attack failed
I've spit blood and body parts and broke strangle holds before gouging eyes
I've charged into fires, fought through blizzards and run from tornados
I've survived being hunted by gangs, killers and contract killers
The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn
Please don't brag to me that you're a survivor because someone hit you. And don't tell me how 'tough' you are because of your training. As much as I've been through I know people who have survived much, much worse. - Marc MacYoung
WARNING, CAVEAT AND NOTE
The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.
Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.
“What you are reading right now is a blog. It’s written and posted by me, because I want to. I get no financial remuneration for writing it. I don’t have to meet anyone’s criteria in order to post it. Not only I don’t have an employer or publisher, but I’m not even constrained by having to please an audience. If people won’t like it, they won’t read it, but I won’t lose anything by it. Provided I don’t break any laws (libel, incitement to violence, etc.), I can post whatever I want. This means that I can write openly and honestly, however controversial my opinions may be. It also means that I could write total bullshit; there is no quality control. I could be biased. I could be insane. I could be trolling. … not all sources are equivalent, and all sources have their pros and cons. These needs to be taken into account when evaluating information, and all information should be evaluated.” - God’s Bastard, Sourcing Sources
“You should prepare yourself to dedicate at least five or six years to your training and practice to understand the philosophy and physiokinetics of martial arts and karate so that you can understand the true spirit of everything and dedicate your mind, body and spirit to the discipline of the art.” - cejames
“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne
Contrasts - Black Belt Then, Black Belt Now
I wonder what will be said in another thirty years regarding the coveted black belt, its status and its meaning to everyone, both uninitiated and initiated. It will in all probability remain convoluted and unimportant in the future unless the meaning and significance of a "black belt" returns to a more traditional meaning that everyone can agree upon.
When I got one I has pride in my personal accomplishments to achieve this recognition. The meaning then meant I has changed myself and assumed a greater role with the knowledge of Isshinryu setting in such a solid foundation that would allow me to grow and build a more stable personal house. Now, today, I can care less whether I wear one or just take off my shirt and shoes, go out on the training hall floor and practice/train in street pants and t-shirt.
The last time I wore a uniform and obi was for a promotion I presented to a solid karate-ka but I decided at that time to wear a special obi that was presented to me as a gift for a more philosophical standpoint, i.e. my efforts in this part along with gokui studies, etc. It was Zen like with smatterings of Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist traits. I have not worn it, any other obi or a karate-gi since but I practice and train every day. I use the term, "yudansha or dansha," when rank comes up. If pushed I say I was presented one around 1979 and after that folks can assume anything they wish as to its meaning, validity and efficiency in practice.
Anyway, what does the coveted "black belt" really mean today? What does it mean to your system? What does it mean to your Dojo? What does it mean, most importantly, to YOU? The contrasts to the answers might surprise you.
Postscript: It would appear that being/becoming a black belt has lost a lot of its mystery and meaning as to perceptions by both the public and its participants. It has come down to a status much like earning a certificate from an educational institute for say, "computer technician," or a two year degree in a particular discipline, i.e. like computer technician, etc. "Associate Degree"