Preparing for a Black Belt Test: Thoughts, Goals, and Emotions

July 2, 2012
By IADayan GOLD, Brooklyn, New York
IADayan GOLD, Brooklyn, New York
10 articles 0 photos 0 comments

To me, black belt represents perseverance. Becoming a white belt takes courage but in order to reach black belt, one has to refuse the temptation to quit and take the easy way out. There have been many times where I questioned my choice to wake up early every Sunday morning to train or push myself to finish a set of pushups. However, I made the decision to continue training hard and achieve my goal. This is what makes black belt so special to me. It is the reward that makes all of my hard work worth it.

I began practicing Shotokan Karate over five years ago, when I was in fifth grade. Finally, I am ready to test for my black belt.

If I pass the black belt test, I would feel a feeling of satisfaction. Just like a person who gets paid after a full week of work, I would know that my hard work got me to this achievement. It was a two way street; my hard work and training had gotten me this great feeling, and the reason the feeling is so great is because I trained and work so hard for it. The black belt test is merely a formality so passing would mean that I have prepared enough and what I have been doing all along was good.

Likewise, if I fail the black belt test, there would nobody to blame but myself. It would be a wake-up call telling me that what I normally doing is not good enough. The test is just a reflection of one’s normal routine. Of course, following the disappointment I would try even harder to reach my goal of becoming a black belt by reevaluating my habits and adjusting them. Since I give my all, I would seek tips and advice on how to improve because there is always room for improvement.

My goals after black belt involve striving to improve. Black belt is a new beginning, not the end. I would focus on improving myself and using my black belt to help people. I would continue working on reaching higher levels. My specific goal in Karate would be to become higher degrees of black belt.

Dojo Kun is a set of rules in the dojo (training hall) that outline what behavior is expected while training. They are posted at the shomen (front of the dojo) as a constant reminder of how we should act. This set of five guiding principles was written by Gichin Funakochi and is recited at the beginning and end of class. The five principles are translated to English as follows: seek perfection of character, be faithful, endeavor, respect others, refrain from violent behavior. Seeking perfection of character is the main goal of Karate. We use the other four principles to seek the perfection of character from the inside out. Being the best person that we can be is something we should try to do all the time, even out of Karate.

Being faithful means being our best in everything we do. If we always give a total effort and ate true to others and to your responsibilities. This is a very important step in achieving the main goal of being the best person you can be. Endeavor is similar to being faithful. No matter what somebody is doing doing, they should try their hardest to succeed. Doing anything short of one’s best is cheating themselves. One must try their best to be the best that they can so they can seek the perfection of character.

Showing respect for others is essential for learning and growing because it is a sign tht you have room to improve. One has something to learn from every single person. Likewise, every person poses a potential threat of some kind and should not be looked upon as not important.

Refrain from violent behavior means to keep constant control over yourself. One should avoid conflict as much as possible because it is something that leads to violent actions. If one has to defend himself, doing so while staying calm will yield the best result.

The name of our style is Shotokan Karate. The name of our school is Gene Dunn’s Shotokan Karate Dojo. Our instructors include Shihan Gene Dunn, Sensei Charles Albert, Ms. Brenda Ferrara, Ms. Patricia Paradiso Dakin, Sensei Isaac Tawil, and Sempai Konstantin Zborovskiy.

Gichin Funakoshi is the founder of Shotokan Karate. He was born in Okinawa and spread the popularity of Karate by supportng the development of Karate university clubs in places such as Keio, Waseda, Hitotsubashi, Takushoku, Chuo, Gakoshuin, and Hosei.

“Shotokan” can be loosely translated as “The Funakoshi Building.” Master Funakoshi used the nickname “Shoto” which means pine waves because he gained his greatest inspirations by walking among the gently blowing pine trees. The Japanese word for house is “kan.” When Master Funakoshi’s students built him a large dojo, they hung a sign in the front that read “The Funakoshi Building,” or “Shotokan.” “Karate” literally means “empty hand.” It is a form of fighting using our body as oppose to weapons.

The four major styles of Karate in Japan are Shito-ryu, Goju-ryu, Shotokan-ryu, and Wado-ryu. Shito-ryu was founded by Mabuni. It is fast but still powerful and artistic. Goju-ryu was founded by Miyagi. It utilizes up and down stancesand internal breathing power. Shotokon-ryu was founded by Funakoshi. It utilizes long linear stances and physical power. Wado-ryu was founded by Ohtsuka, a student of Funakoshi.

In his early life, Master Funakoshi’s main instructors were Yasutsune Itosu, Yasutsune Azato, and Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura. Later on, his main instructors were Takeshi Shimoda and Yoshitaka Funakoshi.

To me, the black belt's history gives it even more value.

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