Friday, March 25, 2011

What is Black Belt to me?

Well, this seems to be one of those questions that has no real answer so I have decided to define what I think makes someone a Black Belt, at least for my school. 
  • Capable of self teaching (Teaching the Martial Arts by Lawrence Kane)
  • Essential understanding of:  (Rory Miller and Marc MacYoung are great sources of information here)
    • Violence
    • Basics of self defense (outside of actually fighting, things like conflict communications and awareness.)
  • Strategy and Tactics of chosen martial arts style (The Way of Kata by K. Wilder and L. Kane, Bunkai Jutsu by Iain Abernethy)
  • Basic understanding of proper fitness practices (Flexibility, strength, and endurance training)
  • Cursory understanding of how all martial arts function.  (Very basic knowledge in the areas of Physics, Kinesiology, Anatomy, etc...)
This is what I want from my students.   I am working on putting together the resources to make sure that all my students have this information.  I have a required reading list that has proven to be very helpful to my more committed students.  I do not think that walking away from my school should be the equal of a college degree.  However, to walk away from any school without notes and books to read when there is so much valuable information out there is irresponsible, in my opinion. 

Training this way should make us better students in all subject areas.  Getting to black belt does not instantly make us magical.  It does not give us the ability to walk on walls and such.  Nor should it make us dumber by allowing us to ignore common sense.  This kind of training prepares us to be a self guided student.

Ideally I would like for my students to walk into any school in the world and be able to analyze what they see and understand.  Again not magically be able to replicate it but just understand it.  With a basic understanding of how techniques work I also hope that when faced with violence the student will be capable of adapting to the situation without much down time.  To give them the tools to be creative and not just spit out what they have been taught only.