What Do Belts Mean?
We often hear people talk about their belts or the belt rank system as though the belts aren’t an important part of their training and personal growth in the martial arts.
“Belts don’t mean anything.”
“I am not interested in belts or ranks…I just want to train.”
“Belts are just there to keep your gi together.”
You can probably add a few of your own to this list if you have been in the martial arts for a while and heard people talk like this.
While there may be some truth hidden in these sentiments what is going on behind these thoughts is this, you want one too!
There is nothing wrong with admitting this, in fact it can be very helpful to know what your goal is, setting easily visible and attainable goals is a very important part of goal setting!
When I started in the martials arts often what kept me going was the fact that I wanted to be a Black Belt or I wanted my next rank of Black Belt.
But it is true, belts have no meaning until there is meaning put into them!
The picture above is of my latest rank of 5th degree black that I just earned, this belt as an item does not hold a lot of importance, what does matter about that belt is what it represents to me personally. It took me 18 years of my life to earn that belt, having started martial arts when I was 9 years old I have now been in martial arts twice the amount of time I haven’t. The martials arts have seen me through a lot of changes in my life while always being a constant. So when I look at thatbelt or tie it on to teach class or train I feel all of the growth I have gone through in the last 18 years of my life.
To some belts might not be an important aspect of martial arts, but in our school we teach an educational system that requires rank advancement. Rank is a marker for both the teacher and the student to measure progress, hmmmmmm, sounds like grades in a School, that is EXACTLY what it is. It is what makes traditional martial arts unique.
Each rank is a milestone along the journey of the martial artist and each one carries with it the struggles and triumphs it took to achieve that level. We have seen kids and adults struggle to get their Gold Belt and be so pumped when they achieve it! Even that first belt represents something. Some of the stories we have witnessed along the way are incredible. The belt is more than a representation of where a student is with the curriculum. It is a representation of what is inside of them. Any student, who has ever achieved the rank of Black Belt, was already one in the inside; regardless of what color belt was around their waist.
The outside reflects the inside.
“I am not interested in belts, they don’t mean anything, they are just to keep your gi together.”
I wonder if someone who thinks like this has ever achieved the rank of Black Belt.
If not, then how do you know belts don’t mean anything?
If so, are you telling me your belt means nothing? I truly hope not.