A Piece of Black Fabric

March 8, 2010
By , Cranbury, NJ
I clapped, smiling, as my Tae Kwon Do instructor handed a piece of black cloth to my friend. I watched as they shook hands, and someone took a picture. He got his certificate and sat back down in his original place. It’s funny – how a piece of thick, black fabric can make a person so proud. A piece of thick, black fabric that he would tie around his waist for the next couple of years, and then he would get another piece of black fabric, this time with a stripe on it. He’d be called “a black belt”.
If someone asked him what belt he had in Tae Kwon Do, he’d respond with an honest answer – a black belt. The person would stare at him in awe, and then would say something like “Oh, that’s so cool, man,” with extreme surprise in his voice. But rarely does a person know what’s so amazing about that piece of cloth.
I, as a student of Tae Kwon Do, am still waiting for the day when I get to stand up there, the day when my instructor will hand me the same piece of black fabric, and the day when I will have achieved my dream of getting a black belt. In many ways, what a black belt meant to my friend will mean the same to me.
A black belt takes years of learning, and years of hard work, and yet it is only a mastery of the basics of the martial art. It takes four to five years to attain this rank of proficiency. In the process, one must pass eleven or twelve other belt colors and ranks, starting from the simple white belt. In order to wear this belt, one must learn nine forms – with black belt excellence, one must spar with black belt excellence, and one must be able to use certain weapons and be able to break boards with advanced kicks. To earn a black belt, one has to endure many training sessions, and one must be able to teach classes. They must follow the five tenets of Tae Kwon Do – Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control, and Indomitable Spirit. Lastly, to get a black belt, the person has to survive the longest and hardest belt test they have had yet. It may, however, be hard to believe that this is probably the easier part of the journey to the black belt.
The hard part is the dedication and the third tenet of Tae Kwon Do – perseverance. There are several people I know who quit their martial arts classes at a white or yellow belt, simply because they couldn’t do it. Or because it was too hard. Some even admitted that their reason for quitting was because it required too much effort. But, there are also many I know who have not given up, many that have persevered, and many that are dedicated. There have been times, and there definitely will be more, when I will feel like it’s too hard, and maybe I should just quit, so it will make things easier. But then, I think of what I’ve worked for this long, and how I have to do make myself do it. Several times, I’ve been taught techniques that I didn’t get right away, and there are things I still haven’t gotten. But I know that if I keep working at it, I will get it one day. Sometimes, it takes me several tries to break a board. But I’m always willing to try again and again until I break it.
In conclusion, a black belt is just a way to symbolize this perseverance, this hard work, this learning, and these several years of dedication. A black belt is only one step in a long journey still to come. Just like every other belt, a black belt is only an inspiration for you to work even harder to take the next step in the everlasting journey. That’s what a black belt means to me.

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FlyleafFreak said...
Mar. 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm
Amazing, this is really good. My friend is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do that has three white stripes on it and she's always trying to explain to me why this is so important to her. Now, I can at least have a glimpse of understanding of what she's trying to tell me. Excellent job.
swim4ever said...
Mar. 18, 2010 at 6:13 pm
Wow this is extremly inspiring and well written i love it
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