Our rank designation will naturally or should change as we continue to train and advance through our martial arts studies.
As in karate, we start as a white belt and expectations for a period of time are low. We are inundated with new terms (maybe in a foreign language), stances, etiquette, technique, movement and so on – 95% physical and 5% mental! Our heads are spinning and not a lot is expected of us for a while! Our rank is apropos — for now!
We’ve been training for say, 6 months now and we’re about orange belt level, the dojo is starting to really feel like something special. Not quite in our element yet, but the atmosphere is slowly permeating and expectations are still minimal. Around the year mark, with luck and determination, we are now green belt. Our niche in the dojo is being carved as we are recognized as a serious student in the making! At this juncture of our training, expectations are made as our confidence and self esteem grows. Others may notice that we perhaps carry ourselves a little more assuredly. This is the beginning of an intermediate student and as such, an awareness of how we carry our rank is important. Are we good examples of a martial arts student? Gut check time. Yes, we’re all in!
With consistent and regular training, ah, now around 4 years, maybe we’ve attained brown belt! No one works harder than a brown belt! Bright coloured belts are gone and now we are within striking distance of the all elusive black belt! We work hard to prove that we deserve this rank and we work hard to prove that we are legitimate contenders for that Black obi!! The Martial Arts culture is in us!
So how do brown belts wear their rank? Brown belts are senior students that lead by example on and off the dojo deck. They wear their rank with humility recognizing that they are constantly being watched by all up and coming students, as well as their seniors in rank! Brown belts wear their rank off the dojo deck in everyday life carrying their positive attributes developed in the dojo beyond their training venue, at all times.
We’ve been learning, training and have embraced our art to the point where we are now rewarded with Shodan (1st degree black belt)! Congrats! Black belt brings responsibility. We are now, more than ever, looked up to, to lead, mentor and demonstrate how a martial artist wears his/her rank! And now another reality hits us… we realize that we are actually just starting to learn in earnest AND share.
From Shodan on up, any black belt is not only viewed and judged by physical prowess, but more than ever by how they present their rank, whether by teaching and leading, but also by good character always! Our ranks and the responsibility attached to it, is how we present ourselves in all aspects of our lives. Our training through the ranks with lessons learned, make us accountable – the higher the rank, the more accountability.
Wear your rank well.