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The Black Belt

One of the best parables I’ve ever heard tells about a martial artist who kneels before a master sensei in a ceremony to receive the hard-earned Black Belt. After years of relentless training, the student has finally reached a pinnacle of achievement in the discipline.

“Before granting you the belt, you must pass one more test,” the sensei solemnly tells the young man.
“I’m ready,” responds the student, expecting perhaps one more round of sparring.
“You must answer the essential question, ‘What is the true meaning of the Black Belt?'”
“Why, the end of my journey,” says the student. “A well-deserved reward for all of my hard work.”
The master waits for more. Clearly, he is not satisfied. The sensei finally speaks: “You are not ready for the Black Belt. Return in one year.”

As the student kneels before his master a year later, he is again asked the question, “What is the true meaning of the Black Belt?”
“A symbol of distinction and the highest achievement in our art,” the young man responds.
Again the master waits for more. Still unsatisfied, he says once more: “You are not ready for the Black Belt. Return in one year.”

A year later the student kneels before his sensei and hears the question, “What is the true meaning of the Black Belt?”
This time he answers, “The Black Belt represents not the end, but the beginning, the start of a never-ending journey of discipline, work and the pursuit of an ever-higher standard.”
“Yes,” says the master. “You are now ready to receive the Black Belt and begin your work.”

You may not be hoping for a Black Belt, but you might be at a crucial point. Maybe you’re facing a life change, perhaps even a painful one. Or maybe you are awaiting something you have worked hard to achieve — graduation, a new job, a promotion, or even retirement. All wise people see that changes can be new beginnings. Change need not be feared. And neither should we be looking for a permanent resting place, for a full and happy life is never stagnant.
Can you affirm that the change you face represents, not just an ending, but a new beginning in your life’s journey? If so, you may be ready to move forward.

-Steve Goodier

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When I read this, it reminded me of when I had my studio (Inner Spirit Martial Arts 1999 – 2003, Jefferson Texas) and my son, Phillip (nick named ‘Flip’ because he could do some Aeriel jumps that would flip you out)…He tested for his Black Belt and I did not pass him. He was very upset with me. It wasn’t that he could not perform the physical tasks for achieving the belt. It was a mixture of his mentality and dedication to form.

He left my school and went to achieve his belt some-place else. It was about a year later and he came back and said that the other schools he went to were a joke. They did more mixed martial arts rather than traditional style. This is what Steven Seagal said in his interview with the Voice, (click here to see this) That in the circuit of mixed martial arts there might be two martial artist and the rest are fighters.

My son re-tested and I presented him with his Black Belt. Mainly because he had a different attitude about martial arts and the way it should be taught. For being a Black Belt means teaching others, setting the tone and presidence of how martial arts should be … poised with honor, integrity, perseverance and for self-defense only. A way of life that enriches a persons spirit and all of those around them. He learned that earning a Black Belt was a great responsibility to himself, his community and those he will be teaching, his journey had just began.



strengthen the body, train the mind and enrich the spirit …Art~

bows humble




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