Saturday, 28 April 2012

Kickstart Your Black Belt Attitude

In the martial arts, Black Belt is a metaphor for excellence.

A Black Belt in any martial arts will have mastered a repertoire of physically impressive skills. In addition, a Black Belt will have also spent time cultivating and demonstrating positive attributes in terms of thought and behaviour, ie. the Black Belt Attitude. Put simply, having a Black Belt Attitude means striving for personal excellence in all areas of life, not just martial arts.

In Choi Kwang-Do, this is promoted within a framework defined by the Children's Promise, the Adult Pledge and the 6 Principles of Choi Kwang-Do, recently revised to:

Self Control
Unbreakable Spirit

Now, we all know that every skill requires practice and review - whether it be a Side Kick or looking for the silver lining in a seemingly negative situation. So, in Choi Kwang-Do we observe the following two checkpoints to kick (pun intended!) the Black Belt Attitude into action every class:-

Checkpoint 1: Tying Your Belt

If you were walking down your local high street and saw a person wearing a blue leotard, red pants (over the leotard) and a red cape, the instinctive curiosity of human beings would make many stop and stare. In some ways, wearing your Choi Kwang-Do uniform is much the same; we may not be able to run faster than a speeding train, or leap tall buildings in a single jump, but we do have other ‘special powers’.

The ‘special powers’ of a Choi Kwang-Do student range from the perfect execution of a pattern right through the physical and mental spectrum to displaying self-confidence and respect by a firm handshake and eye contact when meeting people. These attributes (plus many, many more) are all components of the Black Belt Attitude.

Tying your belt is the last stage of putting on your uniform. Use it as a reminder of the new persona you now acquire - regardless what colour your belt actually is.

Checkpoint 2: Entering the Dojang

The dojahng (training hall; direct translation is House of Discipline) is the primary location where we learn and practise Choi Kwang-Do. An optimum learning environment requires one to the relaxed, yet alert. It requires students to be disciplined.

To set this frame of mind, students say, Pil-Seung, Sir! Pil-Seung, Ma’am!” and then bow as they enter and leave the dojahng. This serves as a polite greeting to those already inside the dojahng (who should respond by saying Pil-Seung!”) Further to this, consider the statement a public declaration, triggering your transition into an incredible Choi Kwang-Do student who strives for personal excellence. After all, you will already have your superhero outfit on!

Naturally, our pursuit of personal excellence should extend to all areas of our lives whether or not you are wearing your uniform or in the dojahng. These two checkpoints are easy to do - the key is to make a conscious effort to create the habit by remembering to do them each time you attend your classes.

Jason Wright is a 5th Degree Black Belt and Master Instructor in the martial art Choi Kwang-Do. For further information on Choi Kwang-Do classes in Ealing, West London visit

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