Black belt testing is six weeks away. There are two students in the dojo preparing for their shodan testing. Last week, we gave the students a writing assignment. The topic was "What does black belt mean to you?". The students have been training hard and spending many hours in the dojo. I wanted them to take a moment and think about why they are on this journey. It is easy to get caught up in the details of the test, the date, the location, schedules and the requirements.
It has been fourteen years since I tested for shodan. Time has changed my perspective about my own testing and journey. I remember being handed my black belt for the first time and thinking "I am not ready". It was humbling and I knew at that moment I had a lot of work to do. The need to work harder and grow as a martial artist follows you through the black belt ranks. One of my proudest martial arts accomplishments was my promotion to 4th Dan and Instructor Certification. A few days after my promotion came the familiar feeling "I am not ready...I have a lot of work to do".
As a kyu rank student, I never saw shodan as the end of my path...it was only the beginning. For me, the important questions are about the Why? Why do I train? Why do I want to be an instructor? Why do I continue?
It is my hope that the students preparing for shodan will enjoy the next six weeks of their training. I want them to not only think about the test but to remember the Why?