white belt

Anyone who has been a fan of any specific martial art or martial arts in general has heard the mythical tales of honor in which a master at the highest level chooses in his or her wisdom to identify themselves with a white belt.

Everyone surely feels the weight of the virtue in that. The master exemplifying the need to be a perpetual student. Even mentioning it feels like cheapening it or lessening its significance. There is something to the old idea that makes its way idiomatically into most cultures and most times. It could be there is some of the same stuff (stuff is a technical word – look it up) in the idea on the other side of that age coin - that youth is wasted on the young. Even that legendary martial arts trainer Sensei Mark Twain once quipped how at fourteen years old he thought his father was ignorant and at twenty one he was amazed at how much old dad had learned in seven years. Before you suggest Twain was not a Sensei, you might want to also check if that quote wasn't apocryphal too. Mandela effect much?

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This year, 2020, marks my 40th year in the martial arts. For the first 15 years, I followed a pretty normal path in karate. My instructor told us right from the beginning that only one in 1000 people would actually make black belt. We studied relentlessly and didn't digress from our very traditional program. There were no children and I was the only female.

In the early years it was all about blocks, strikes, kicks, sparring and some kata. Then a strange thing happened. Our 3rd degree black belt head instructor started studying the sword art of kendo in his free time, as a new white belt. Shortly after that, there were weapons katas being introduced to our karate system.

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