Archive for the ‘Belts’ Category

belt2-redWell, this is a bit overdue.  I celebrated by 2 years of training a month ago on June 1 and earned my Red Belt last week. Life tends to throw things at you that outweigh the blog. Better late than never is what I say!

So here I am. Another step closer towards the Black Belt and (I’d like to think) wiser by a year. Lots has happened this year, of course. I’ve learned some nice techniques including many knife and gun defenses, takedowns, lots of sparring, bear hugs, chokes, and ground defense. Lots of bruises, bumps, fractures, and other minor injuries but thankfully nothing debilitating. Here’s hoping that trend continues into Year Three. (more…)

“If your karate is good enough you do not need a black belt to prove it, and if it is not, then you should not wear one.
— Eiichi Miyazato

I think my driver changed. No longer am I motivated so much by belts. The strip of cloth we tie around our midsection. Sure they are a extremely helpful as goals and a visible result of our hard work and dedication that we actually can wear.  What I’m finding though is that I am more driven by the prospect of an increase in skill, a better sense that I’m “gettin’ it”, and a more solid feeling that I can really use this stuff to protect myself if I ever need to.

4z7hNY2Up until fairly recently, I have been focusing on the goal of being a Black Belt as my primary motivation. I have realized that this is all wrong, at least for me. With each new belt stripe and new belt color I get one step closer to Black Belt but I also get less and less jazzed about the belt itself and more excited about what the skills I’m obtaining. I wear mine every class despite the fact that few students at my school do not (except Black Belts). This is not done as a something that I hope triggers envy in White Belts but as a visible reminder to myself alone that I’ve made progress and should always strive to make progress. Every day, every class — without exception.

So why do we want to be Black Belts? That Final Destination. For some it’s a Bucket List item. In fact, I’ve seen a surprisingly high percentage of students bail within 6 months of getting said belt. For others a Black Belt is a personal challenge, like running a marathon. For some it’s to boast to everyone who’ll listen (the vast majority of people who do listen, by the way, will not give a rat’s ass, by the way). For others it might be a way to get recognition and respect (i.e., in a dojo) where they might not get it so easily outside in the real world. Maybe their spouse, boss, siblings, and co-workers think they’re a nicompooop but at the dojo, with a Black Belt, they are respected. Really though, who knows what drives someone else to do what they do? (more…)

Brown Belt Achieved!

Posted: January 5, 2013 in Attitude, Belts

belt2-brownA few weeks ago I earned my Brown Belt. I’ve written about belts at my school before, of course. It’s a natural thing to fixate on and, particularly to younger or newer students, is a very important aspect of training initially. I say ‘initially’ because in many cases (definitely for me) the whole concept wears off and you’re not quite as enamored with them after several months. Yes, they are great milestones and goals, don’t get me wrong. Getting a new belt is a huge achievement and something that everyone at my school earns with a lot of extremely hard work. It’s just that, as a student, the training itself becomes the obsession rather than the long strip of cloth you’ve got strapped around your midsection. (more…)

Green Belt Achieved!

Posted: October 2, 2012 in Belt Test, Belts

Whew. After another arduous three months and lots of bumps and bruises I passed through to the other side and am now a Green Belt.

This cycle has been filled with lots of bear hug variations and neat takedowns. We were introduced to the Escrima/Kali sticks to focus on our striking technique and sharpen our perception of the opponent commencing an attack. We jacked up our aggression drills to levels I didn’t think I’d be able to participate a year ago.

Sparring. Lots of sparring. We’ve got some new techniques and built up some more endurance in this area, which is nice, and I never tire of learning more.

More reflections on the way over the coming weeks.

Blue Belt Achieved!

Posted: June 25, 2012 in Belt Test, Belts

20120625-222052.jpgWhew! Made it. After a tough three months I am one step closer to my ultimate goal.

Some reflections are to come. First, I gotta get some ice.

Belts as Goals

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Attitude, Belt Test, Belts, Older

At our recent belt ceremony we heard more about what belts mean at our school. The topic of belts is a very touchy one for some and a very engrossing one for others, oftentimes depending on where a person is on the ‘belt continuum’.  Observation has led me to believe that more advanced students claim to think less about belts than newer students. Anyhow, what made this talk interesting was that it gave us another way to think of the belt. Many of us who train in martial arts see the belt as a reward and there’s no doubt that it is indeed that.  But it is actually something more.

The reason that our school grants so many belts when compared to many other Krav Maga schools is that belts are seen as goals.  Our school Master told us that when he first obtained his Black Belt he asked, “What next?”. He had been conditioned over the years to never be satisfied that “that was it”.  He has been training in martial arts since the age of 11 and this is one of the most important lessons he has gained from it: to set goals and always look for the next step — how to improve and get to the next level of greatness.  It’s his and the school’s philosophy that belts provide those incremental steps to get to your ultimate end goal, the Black Belt and beyond.

One analogy he gave us is the old adage of:

“What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time”.

This is, in his opinion, the way to achieve the long-term goal of Black Belt. And what better way to do it in martial arts than defining belts that are not strung out by many months. One could argue that belts separated by a longer time interval serve the same purpose, I suppose. What is truly the difference between a belt being granted every 3 months vs. every 12 months, right? I think, as a matter of personal preference, that the difference is there and appreciate the smaller increments.  Again, to paraphrase, the school Master said if he were to set out to lose 20 pounds in 2 months he wouldn’t make that his only goal. It’s too big and tough to measure progress against and could be frustrating and overwhelming. Instead he would first figure that he’d need to lose 10 pounds a month, which means 2.5 pounds a week.  This is how the Black Belt journey is subdivided.  Assuming the average student requires 4 to 6.5 years of training to achieve that level of mastery and proficiency, the journey is divided by rough intervals by belts (and some of the belts further divided by stripes).

In the end, the belt to us now looks a little different. Yes, it’s a measure of our experience and time spent training.  But now, thanks to that talk, we can now recognize it for something even greater — a tangible goal that we can aspire to attain through hard work and dedication every day we spend in class.

Yellow Belt Test Passed

Posted: July 30, 2011 in Belt Test, Belts

Great news for me this week.  After many weeks of pounding away and sweating rivers it all paid off.  Most of my class, myself included, passed our first belt test.  Surprisingly I found out that a few students actually “flunked”.  Well, maybe that’s a harsh word, maybe they just hadn’t been at it long enough but word on the street has it that they didn’t get their Yellow Belt following the test.  Bad for them but in a way it makes me feel better that the belt I earned was not just a gimme because I had showed up and did my time.

I am actually going to be vacationing next week which will be nice.  Upon returning I am going to experience my first Graduation Ceremony immediately following my normal class. Apparently the class is a mix of higher and lower belts for socialization purposes so that ought to be nice as I haven’t met anyone in the higher belts yet.

Now, I’m not fixated on the belt by any stretch but anyone who says it doesn’t matter or they don’t care when their next belt is coming is either a Black Belt or a liar. So, yeah, it’s not a small, insignificant deal to me.  It’s a visual reminder that I have put in some hard time and that the lessons are getting through my thick skull.  If all goes according to plan and schedule I am up for my Orange Belt in three months.  Beyond that I will be Purple and moving up to the Advanced class which goes up through Black Belt.  No need getting excited about that yet as the promotion to Advanced won’t be happening for me any earlier than February of next year.

Onward and upward!

As with all new White Belts, I wonder what my first belt test is going to be like.  There are some decent videos on YouTube but since Krav Maga belt systems vary a bit from school to school, the tests shown in the videos vary a bit from one to the next as well.

Below is one that I watch from time to time to see what techniques I’ve learned and some I haven’t yet.  Apparently the test for his group took 4 hours to complete.  I am assuming that’s everyone in the whole class taking turns getting tested with various aspects since the Black Belt test is supposed to take 8 hours.

Unlike most other martial arts, belts are not universally adopted in Krav Maga.  In fact, in many schools’ belts are not even used!  Instead of belts many schools use grades or groups named Practitioner, Graduate, Expert, and Master. Patches are used by some, belts by others, and nothing at all by some schools.

The school I attend is affiliated with Krav Maga Worldwide (which itself is based on a 5 belt system).  You start out not as a White belt but as a Yellow belt (equivalent to Practitioner), progress to Orange (Practitioner), Green (Practitioner/Graduate), Blue (Graduate), Brown (Graduate), then through 5 degrees of Black (Expert/Master) — if you live that long.

As I understand it, as my school became affiliated with Worldwide, there was some negotiating with the organization to keep the belt system already in place, a system that the school founder and teaches believed very strongly in.  This was agreed to and today the school has 10 belts: White, Yellow, Orange, Purple, Blue, Green, Brown, Red, Red/Black, and Black.  The belts take various amounts of time to achieve depending both of how often you train as well as the belts themselves (i.e., some belts just take longer, such as Black).

Further, my school has two broad classes for adults, a Basic Training group (Practitioners, I presume) as well as an Advanced Training group (Graduates and Experts, though I am not sure where the line is in the belt rankings).  The Basic group contains us newbies and ranges from White belt up through and including Orange belts.  Most of the group is out of shape, sheepishly watching the Advanced students from the sidelines as they confidently strut their advanced stuff and pretend they’re not being watched.

As I understand it (again, at least in my school), it’s customary for a student to be part of the Basic group for about 9 months.  The promotion through each belt in the group includes a stripe on the belt during the last week of each month.  If the student is showing the right progress they get a stripe.  After three stripes, a belt promotion.

Once one is bumped out of Orange into Purple they start all over at the “bottom” as they get promoted into the Advanced class, a place where, in some ways, the “real” training for Black belt begins.