Northwest Austin ATA Martial Arts was proud to award 3 students a new black belt rank at our December promotional event, making it a great time for us to discuss “what’s next after black belt”.
My instructor, Chief Master Nominee, Senior Master Joel D. Bass, always made a point of emphasis that a black belt is not a master of taekwondo, but rather is a person who has mastered the basics of the art. Essentially, after moving out of the color belt ranks, you are just starting in the advanced ranks of Taekwondo.
Earning a black belt is a well-recognized accomplishment, as most in our society understand that it represents years of hard work and dedication to a single art. While it is a simple task (and about a $5 cost) to go online and order a black belt for yourself, the belt doesn’t make the martial artist. Anyone who has earned a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo knows that it is hard work, and definitely earned – not given. It represents physical growth, mental growth, dedication to traditional values, and a lot of hard work.
Those who have been a black belt for some time can share stories about what people’s reactions are to learning of an advanced rank in martial arts.
“I bet you can beat me up”
“Oh, I’d better not mess with you!”
“Are your hands registered weapons?”
These types of statements demonstrate that society as a whole sees a black belt as an expert – whereas, we see it as a person who has a solid foundation on the basics and is now ready to move to advanced training and concepts. In short, your training does not end when you first earn a black belt – it really has just begun.
Imagine that after you learned to read in the 2nd grade, you then never progressed on to enjoy any classic novels, the daily news, social media (ok ok, that last one could probably be skipped….) Or perhaps you learned to add and subtract then didn’t apply those skills to managing your investments and finances. Learned to cook, but never made a great meal for yourself and your family. It’s the same with martial arts – there are so many new skills to learn, applications of the skills you already know, and fun areas of focus to move on to.
So, even though you have just achieved a fantastic goal set years ago, it is our hope that if you haven’t looked ahead to the future before earning your Black Belt, you take a moment to find out what earning that Black Belt opens up for you in your future training with ATA Martial Arts.
Eternal Grandmaster H.U. Lee taught us that “There is always more to learn”, and it is so true. So what will you learn next?