Part One: Beginning with the Right Mindset
I’ve been teaching karate for just over twelve years, and if there is one thing that I can guarantee any new student it is that your journey to becoming a black belt is going to be different than anyone else’s. For some, the first few classes are very awkward as they learn all new ways of moving, in a strange new environment, where you wear a karate uniform, and have bare feet. Others go into their first class excited to finally do the thing that they have wanted to try for years. Some have the ability to do the techniques on their first try, while others need to work at it for weeks, even months before it finally clicks. Some people find they really like hitting pads and sparring, while others find they prefer the more passive aspects of the traditional techniques.
Who you are as a student can only be determined by getting in the classroom and giving it a shot. For those of you reading this who are currently active students may have figured it out, but things change. That’s why I call it “Your Journey”. Not only is it an individual adventure, but what you learn about yourself will always be changing, and could quite possibly surprise you. I’ve been in the martial arts for over 21 years, and I’m still learning new things, not only in the martial arts, but also about myself.
With that said, the best advice that I can give to anyone at the beginning of your journey to black belt is to never compare your abilities to someone else’s. I’ve learned to never compare or make assumptions about my own students because things can change quickly. I’ve had students that are rock stars for the first few belts, but then start to struggle when things get a bit more challenging. I’ve also had students that struggle at the beginning, but once they settle into the routine, they start to really shine. It’s impossible to predict.
The most important thing is that you keep trying. Your success as a martial artist is what you make of it. We have a framed picture in our entryway that reads, “A black belt is a white belt that never quit.” It’s one of the truest statements I’ve ever read. Every day you show up to class gets you one step further on your journey. It brings you one step closer to your goal. The moment you stop showing up, your journey ends. But if you keep at it, no matter how challenging it may become, one day you will be a black belt.
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