Black Belt = Step One

        In my first year of Taekwon-Do, I would watch the Black Belts doing their patterns and just be astounded at the vast difference in their knowledge and mine. I struggled to keep the details of my few patterns in my brain, the movements, how to turn, which stance to be in. I felt like they knew everything and I knew nothing and I couldn’t imagine how I was going to bridge that gap. I couldn’t think of how I would possibly be able to acquire the physical knowledge I needed to get to that point.

Now, I am days away from my black belt test, and every time I do every pattern I learn something new. There are micro-corrections to make in every stance, in every hand position. I couldn’t even consider that level of correction when I started because the macro-corrections were so challenging. There’s no point in considering whether your back foot is at 15 degrees or 25 if you are facing the wrong way, or if you have the wrong foot forward. I have the knowledge that I never thought I would be able to acquire, and yet I can see so much more to learn.

You know how when you want something done you should ask a busy person, because they will figure out a way to fit it into their schedule? It seems like it is much the same with reaching the black belt level of knowledge. Now that I have created space for the knowledge to test for my black belt, I have room to take in even more information. And, I have the context to understand more of the information that I’m given. I can see more ways to work on and correct my stances, my kicks, and my punches. I have way more power in my movements than I did even a year ago, but I can see ways to get even more.

A few years ago, I understood and could describe the means to generate more power, and, the ways to improve my training, but now, as I prepare for my test, I can actually put a lot of it into practice. It was if I understood it with my brain before, but it is finally seeping down into my body. My arms, legs, and abs are starting to understand what to do. But that understanding brings the realization of how much more I have to learn, how much better I can get.

Perhaps it might be discouraging for some people to discover that a black belt is not the end point, but for me it is exciting. This isn’t the culmination of my Taekwon-Do practice, this is where it really starts. Everything I’ve done so far has been in preparation for this first step.  This is when I am finally ready to learn to make good use of the knowledge I am acquiring. I feel like I have finally learned my letters, my parts of speech, and my handwriting, and now I am going to be able to start writing a book. That metaphorical book will take a lot of work, and a lot of editing, but the process will be a good sort of a challenge.

In my student manual, it says that a first degree black belt is a fledgling, someone who is really just beginning, and that really resonates with me. When I earn my belt, I won’t be an expert, I will be someone who is officially ready to learn at a new level. More will be expected of me, but I embrace the responsibility.

I’m really looking forward to wearing that black belt and starting my next set of challenges.