THE BLACK BELT
There is a huge difference between being a black belt and having a black belt.
A black belt is after all a black piece of cloth that is tied around ones waist, but being a black belt is something profound that represents who you are.
One thing a black belt isn’t – it’s not the end or the goal. It is about always learning and reflecting – the learning never stops.
The Obi (belt) encircles the wearer; the circle created is a universal symbol of wholeness and harmony symbolising the totality of the universe. The circularity of the belt reinforces the circular type of training; the fact that, after years of training, one realises that the true essence of Karate-Do existed at the beginning.
The tanden, considered the sourse of ki/life force/vital energy, is a point about three inches below the navel and deep inside the body. It is thought to be the centre of the self and as a practical matter; it is the approximate centre of balance of the body.
Part of the knot of the Obi usually touches the body in front of the tanden, reminding the wearer of his or her personal source of ki or power.
Thus, while putting on the belt, the student encircles and collects all energy from without and within into the tanden and locks it there with the knot. He or she can disperse the energy freely throughout the body to achieve power, harmony, order and enlightenment while training.
The final goal of Karate is the “perfection of human character”. However, this goal is often forgotten by the unenlightened students who think the goal of the art is to make everyone a better fighter.
Skill level does not always equal rank. Just because a young green belt may be able to consistantly beat an older brown belt, does not demean the brown belt nor raise the green belt’s esteem.
The whole essence of Karate is looking within yourself and pushing to be the best you can be – learning your own limitations and pushing them to the fullest extent.
When you realise that the black belt is not as important as the practice itself, you are probably approaching the black belt level.
To study Martial Arts is to study yourself – it has nothing to do with rank.
A great Zen Master once said “To study the self is to forget the self – To forget the self is to understand all things”
Those who know don’t talk. Those who talk don’t know.