Its about the journey not the destination

PhotonGuy

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When talking about stuff such as rank or for that matter developing a certain level of proficiency in the martial arts which might not involve rank as not all styles use rank, people have pointed out that its about the journey not the destination. There has been some debate over what a black belt means. Some people say it just means you're a serious beginner and you're ready to learn the "real stuff" while other people say its at least equivalent to a college degree. It depends on the perspective and its all relative but I will say this, no matter how the black belt is viewed one thing is certain, it is not the end of the journey, at least not for people who keep training after getting a black belt. The journey in the martial arts is ongoing and never ending as long as the martial artist keeps training. So the black belt is not the end of the journey but you do reach a new leg in the journey. So while not everybody agrees on the black belt representing a serious beginner or somebody with a college degree or anywhere in between, which it does vary quite a bit since each dojo has its own standards, I do believe we can agree that its not the end of the journey and that it does, at the very least, represent reaching a new leg in the journey.
 

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When talking about stuff such as rank or for that matter developing a certain level of proficiency in the martial arts which might not involve rank as not all styles use rank, people have pointed out that its about the journey not the destination. There has been some debate over what a black belt means. Some people say it just means you're a serious beginner and you're ready to learn the "real stuff" while other people say its at least equivalent to a college degree. It depends on the perspective and its all relative but I will say this, no matter how the black belt is viewed one thing is certain, it is not the end of the journey, at least not for people who keep training after getting a black belt. The journey in the martial arts is ongoing and never ending as long as the martial artist keeps training. So the black belt is not the end of the journey but you do reach a new leg in the journey. So while not everybody agrees on the black belt representing a serious beginner or somebody with a college degree or anywhere in between, which it does vary quite a bit since each dojo has its own standards, I do believe we can agree that its not the end of the journey and that it does, at the very least, represent reaching a new leg in the journey.
Every student I have awarded a BB to I have requested them to write a paper as they reflect upon what their journey to having attained a BB means to them. Those who have continued on their journey within the arts for the most part wrote about realizing it was just another day of training whereas most of those who quite after attaining their BB wrote about having finally achieving their goal.
 

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When talking about stuff such as rank or for that matter developing a certain level of proficiency in the martial arts which might not involve rank as not all styles use rank, people have pointed out that its about the journey not the destination. There has been some debate over what a black belt means. Some people say it just means you're a serious beginner and you're ready to learn the "real stuff" while other people say its at least equivalent to a college degree. It depends on the perspective and its all relative but I will say this, no matter how the black belt is viewed one thing is certain, it is not the end of the journey, at least not for people who keep training after getting a black belt. The journey in the martial arts is ongoing and never ending as long as the martial artist keeps training. So the black belt is not the end of the journey but you do reach a new leg in the journey. So while not everybody agrees on the black belt representing a serious beginner or somebody with a college degree or anywhere in between, which it does vary quite a bit since each dojo has its own standards, I do believe we can agree that its not the end of the journey and that it does, at the very least, represent reaching a new leg in the journey.

Did you have a question about this? This seems like you are making a statement. What are we discussing?

A black belt is a by-product of hard training. It is almost incidental if you have a long term training mentality.

I had a friend who was held back from first dan due to some problems with self discipline. He was angry about being held back, which only served to illustrate his lack of self control and poor training mentality. It was pretty much certain that he would attain the grade at some point as he was a talent, but his total focus on it as a goal put him in a bad place in terms of emotional investment.

Better just to train and enjoy the by-products as an when they might come. There is such a thing as too much passion.


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PhotonGuy

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Every student I have awarded a BB to I have requested them to write a paper as they reflect upon what their journey to having attained a BB means to them. Those who have continued on their journey within the arts for the most part wrote about realizing it was just another day of training whereas most of those who quite after attaining their BB wrote about having finally achieving their goal.

For people who continue their journey I would say it is another day of training but you also do reach a new leg, at least from my experience. After you make black belt it doesn't get easier it gets harder. For one thing, they expect more out of you at the dojo but aside from that and I would say even more profoundly you expect more out of yourself. That is why some people, after making black belt, will train even harder than they did before.
 
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One of my students has been with me for 12 years. He is more interested in testing his MA skill in local MMA gyms than to take his 1st degree black belt test that he was qualified to take 4 years ago.

So maybe he just doesn't care for the black belt, to each their own.
 
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PhotonGuy

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I had a friend who was held back from first dan due to some problems with self discipline. He was angry about being held back, which only served to illustrate his lack of self control and poor training mentality. It was pretty much certain that he would attain the grade at some point as he was a talent, but his total focus on it as a goal put him in a bad place in terms of emotional investment.

Better just to train and enjoy the by-products as an when they might come. There is such a thing as too much passion.
So your friend must train at a place where, for the black belt, they don't just require you to attain a certain skill level but where they also require you to display other attributes such as patience and self discipline. So your friend even though he might meet the skill requirement doesn't meet the other requirements and thus is being held back, that's the impression I get from what you're saying.

As for having too much passion, try telling that to somebody such as Bruce Lee.
 

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For people who continue their journey I would say it is another day of training but you also do reach a new leg, at least from my experience. After you make black belt it doesn't get easier it gets harder. For one thing, they expect more out of you at the dojo but aside from that and I would say even more profoundly you expect more out of yourself. That is why some people, after making black belt, will train even harder than they did before.
Yep. Since getting awarded my BJJ black belt I've been training and studying even more than previously. I'm very aware of all the areas I need to improve in order to meet my own standards for the rank.

In fact, the more I learn in general, the further any sort of mastery seems to recede in the distance. More and more I walk into class half-convinced that I don't know anything and I'm almost surprised when I'm able to answer questions and solve problems for students in a helpful way.
 

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As for having too much passion, try telling that to somebody such as Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee never had or cared about a black belt either.

There are no belt ranks in traditional Chinese marital arts, those showed up later after CMA went to the West. Oh and there were no belt ranks in Bruce Lee's JKD either.


From an article "On Being Different" by Bill Bunting found on Taoism.net

Substitute Martial Artist for Taoist and you get the idea. You can also substitute Karate School for any martial art you like

There are very few who understand that to train the mind and spirit, one must also subdue the body. In this simple paragraph lies one of the greatest differences, and one that is most difficult to overcome. In the west, and sadly more often now in the east, the philosophy of instant gratification, a quick fix, and easy riches is the religion of the moment. In dojo after dojo (Karate schools) time and again, young children and unqualified adults are given rank by instructors who take their money for two years and teach them nothing of how life and the universe works. In the west with very few exceptions, the real meaning of the training, to aid in the establishment of enlightenment, has been lost, and it has been lost to the idol of wealth. The sage knows that to truly master even one system may take a lifetime, and it is not the technique or the ability to break things that is important, but the discipline, the knowledge and the wisdom that are acquired by conditioning the body, mind and spirit to all move as one. It is harmony and peace and unity with the Tao that we seek, not the colorful belt on the uniform. As Taoists, we seek the Tao in terms of lifetimes, not years, and the journey is not measured in distance traveled, or in distance yet to go, but in the now.
 

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So your friend must train at a place where, for the black belt, they don't just require you to attain a certain skill level but where they also require you to display other attributes such as patience and self discipline. So your friend even though he might meet the skill requirement doesn't meet the other requirements and thus is being held back, that's the impression I get from what you're saying.

As for having too much passion, try telling that to somebody such as Bruce Lee.
They don't require you to display those characteristics, but if you obviously display a lack of those characteristics, or others that the tenets of Taekwondo describe, then that's a problem.

Bruce Lee may have loved his art, but he was not so in love with it as to be led by his emotions. That's what I mean by too much passion.
 

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In fact, the more I learn in general, the further any sort of mastery seems to recede in the distance. More and more I walk into class half-convinced that I don't know anything and I'm almost surprised when I'm able to answer questions and solve problems for students in a helpful way.

Amen, brother. It's a pretty big club we belong to.
 
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PhotonGuy

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Bruce Lee never had or cared about a black belt either.

There are no belt ranks in traditional Chinese marital arts, those showed up later after CMA went to the West. Oh and there were no belt ranks in Bruce Lee's JKD either.


From an article "On Being Different" by Bill Bunting found on Taoism.net

Substitute Martial Artist for Taoist and you get the idea. You can also substitute Karate School for any martial art you like

Well nevertheless Bruce Lee was very passionate about his training. True, his styles didn't use belts or any kind of ranking system but he was just very passionate about the styles themselves and the training and about being the best he could be. As far as Bruce Lee was concerned you could never be too passionate.
 

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Belt rankings are simply milestones along the journey.

I tell all my new students that the first major goal they will set is to achieve 1st Degree Black Belt. That's like setting a goal to graduate from high school. You've hopefully spent several years learning the basics; now it's time to go to college and really learn the art.
 

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Well nevertheless Bruce Lee was very passionate about his training. True, his styles didn't use belts or any kind of ranking system but he was just very passionate about the styles themselves and the training and about being the best he could be. As far as Bruce Lee was concerned you could never be too passionate.

"Emotional content. Not anger."

In the film 'Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do', Bruce tells actor James Coburn, who is trying to throw a side kick, "You are trying too much to control the movement, and by too much control, you're too concerned about its execution. Therefore you're too tight." It seems the idea of too much passion, or trying too hard, was one that was not alien to Bruce.


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Xue Sheng

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"Emotional content. Not anger."

In the film 'Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do', Bruce tells actor James Coburn, who is trying to throw a side kick, "You are trying too much to control the movement, and by too much control, you're too concerned about its execution. Therefore you're too tight." It seems the idea of too much passion, or trying too hard, was one that was not alien to Bruce.


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Bruce was passionate about martial arts and philosophy, of that I have no doubt, he absorbed all he could about everything he saw about either subject. However the execution (not just Bruce Lee, but most CMA styles) is highly dependent on relaxation since all power comes from the root and being to tense or stiffening your muscles only impedes that execution and power. So trying to hard is going to happen, but one needs to relax and not try so hard for proper execution of any given attack or defense. But passion is something entirely different.
 
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PhotonGuy

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Belt rankings are simply milestones along the journey.

I tell all my new students that the first major goal they will set is to achieve 1st Degree Black Belt. That's like setting a goal to graduate from high school. You've hopefully spent several years learning the basics; now it's time to go to college and really learn the art.
I would have to agree.
 
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PhotonGuy

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They don't require you to display those characteristics, but if you obviously display a lack of those characteristics, or others that the tenets of Taekwondo describe, then that's a problem.

Bruce Lee may have loved his art, but he was not so in love with it as to be led by his emotions. That's what I mean by too much passion.

If your friend knew exactly why he was being held back than he would know what he needs to work on. That's what's important, knowing why you're being held back so you know what you need to work on and fix so that you won't be held back.

And Bruce Lee was not led by his emotions but he used them to his advantage. He was not driven, he was the driver. But he did train really hard, some people might say he was too extreme. He would be doing drills with the wooden dummy, his friends would go out for pizza and when they came back he would still be doing the drills and he would say he was almost done and then he would switch to his other hand. I don't know if you would call that too passionate.
 

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If your friend knew exactly why he was being held back than he would know what he needs to work on. That's what's important, knowing why you're being held back so you know what you need to work on and fix so that you won't be held back.

Or, maybe he/she shouldn't be spoon fed. One of the desirable behaviours implicit within the tenets is self-reflection. A person should be able to consider their own behaviour and critically appraise it.

The individual in question displayed a very quick temper and an inability to control it. There were a number of occasions where this was an issue, two of which involved physically violent outbursts. His next grading was first dan. Would you have held him back? It was obvious to him and everyone else why.
And Bruce Lee was not led by his emotions but he used them to his advantage. He was not driven, he was the driver. But he did train really hard, some people might say he was too extreme. He would be doing drills with the wooden dummy, his friends would go out for pizza and when they came back he would still be doing the drills and he would say he was almost done and then he would switch to his other hand. I don't know if you would call that too passionate.

I don't really care about Bruce Lee TBH, you brought him up. He is a dead martial artist. I concern myself more with living ones. I maintain that there is a state of high emotion which is undesirable in Taekwondo, and those who display that level of passion also display a lack of self control. As self control is one of the tenets, that person still has a way to go on their journey.

I would also have a problem promoting someone whose mantra from white belt on were 'I want to be a black belt' or 'I want to be a master' and for that reason wanted to take every test as soon as possible. Modesty combined with self-reflection should encourage a person to critically appraise their own abilities and see a need for consolidation and improvement.

I want my students to realise and keep a higher standard for themselves than the standards set out at testing. They know this, and most of them do.
 
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PhotonGuy

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Or, maybe he/she shouldn't be spoon fed. One of the desirable behaviours implicit within the tenets is self-reflection. A person should be able to consider their own behaviour and critically appraise it.
Just what do you mean by spoon fed? If you mean that, by spoon feeding, somebody else is taking the test for you or helping you with the test than from my experience, you can't be spoon fed in the martial arts. All the places where I've trained you have to take the test yourself without help if you want to pass. If by being spoon fed you mean that a person is told that they aren't behaving properly than I can see, to some extent, that a person should know that beforehand.

The individual in question displayed a very quick temper and an inability to control it. There were a number of occasions where this was an issue, two of which involved physically violent outbursts. His next grading was first dan. Would you have held him back? It was obvious to him and everyone else why.
In lots of dojos he might not last. Students who act like that are sometimes expelled and banned. So if he was at a dojo that I was running I probably would've expelled him far before he got to the grading before first dan. As it is, though, such an attitude would probably hinder your skill progression in the martial arts. With his problems I don't see how he would've ever gotten to be at the level he was which you said was one notch below black belt. As its been posted here before, trying too hard and becoming too uptight can ruin your technique. So I don't see how he would've developed the skill level of 1st dan or anywhere close to it if he was like that.

I don't really care about Bruce Lee TBH, you brought him up. He is a dead martial artist. I concern myself more with living ones. I maintain that there is a state of high emotion which is undesirable in Taekwondo, and those who display that level of passion also display a lack of self control. As self control is one of the tenets, that person still has a way to go on their journey.
Dead people can be just as influential, if not more so, than living people. Just because somebody is dead doesn't mean you should dismiss them. As far as emotion is concerned, its fine to have emotion as long as you control it and not the other way around. When you're in control, emotion can be used to great advantage. Take for instance fear, a very strong emotion. You could say fear is a fire burning inside you, if you control it than it will make you hot, if it controls you it will burn you up. Actually it was from Rocky V that I got that but the concept is true. You mention the importance of self control and that's where controlling your emotions comes in. Strong emotions are fine as long as you have the self control to handle them.

I would also have a problem promoting someone whose mantra from white belt on were 'I want to be a black belt' or 'I want to be a master' and for that reason wanted to take every test as soon as possible. Modesty combined with self-reflection should encourage a person to critically appraise their own abilities and see a need for consolidation and improvement.
The problem with that is once you do become a black belt or a master than what? Black belt and master are just milestones along the journey as I said before in this thread. Also, I think a white belt focusing too much on the black belt is getting ahead of themselves, much like the parable about the student who was told the harder he worked at becoming a master swordsman the longer it would take him and was told, "When there is one eye fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way." A white belt should be focusing on whatever belt is next up such as yellow belt as it is in my style. As for the black belt, you cross that bridge when you get to it. Its important however, that when you do get to that bridge, that you cross it.

On a side note, how do you feel about academic students who since day 1 in school has a mantra that, "I want straight As," and/or "I want a Ph. D."? How about college students who take a heavier than usual coarse load because they want a degree sooner? I've known students that've done that.

I want my students to realise and keep a higher standard for themselves than the standards set out at testing. They know this, and most of them do.

Most of your students must be good students than. I also like to go way above and beyond the standards of the tests instead of just scraping by as some people do.
 
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