What Does a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do Signify?
You did it. Proudly tied around your waist is that ultimate of martial arts goals – the black belt. Your family and friends slap you on the back as they offer you congratulations. Your instructors bow in respect and give words of well-deserved praise. Capture the moment. You will remember it for the rest of your life.
But then you stop and consider – “Now what? Is this it? What does having this black belt mean for me?”
Defining the Role of a “Master”
Whoever wrote the Wikipedia article on black belts nailed the analogy:
“Since in many styles a black belt takes approximately three to six years of training to achieve, a good intuitive analogy would be a bachelor’s degree: the student has a good understanding of concepts and ability to use them but has not yet perfected their skills. In this analogy, a master’s degree and a doctorate would represent advancement past the first degree.”(1)
In simple words, a black belt means you have mastered the fundamentals of Tae Kwon Do. You should be very proud of your accomplishment. Only a few ever manage to reach the level of black belt, and even fewer go on to become a “master” of Tae Kwon Do as an art.
Children can achieve black belt status.This is because a black belt does NOT mean that the student can beat everyone in a fight. Even though kids are taught to spar, there is a point where size takes over. Having a black belt DOES mean they have acquired the mental and physical skills needed to teach others, and to take Tae Kwon Do from a “sport” to an “art”.
With Rank Comes Responsibility
If you reach the rank of black belt in Tae Kwon Do, you are expected to lead or teach. Believe it or not, a teacher often learns more than the students. When you have to break down the skills that you now take for granted, you see components and relationships you hadn’t noticed before. For this very reason, learning does not stop once you have your black belt.
As a black belt, you have a lot of responsibility. Students perceive you to be one of the “experts” in the dojang. It’s important that you stay in top condition and exhibit a strong character. Younger students look up to you and emulate you.
Your responsibility isn’t just inside the dojang. You need to be aware of your role outside as well. Others may discover that you are a black belt, so it is important that you are a strong representative and ambassador for your art. This means you must not be perceived as a bully, you shouldn’t speak ill of other styles – and while it is okay to demonstrate Tae Kwon Do, showing off should be avoided.
Finally, you have a responsibility to yourself. After years of disciplined study, the last thing you want to do is stop. Conditioning and muscle memory disappear when they aren’t exercised. Continue to study Tae Kwon Do and make it a life-long pursuit. There is always something new to learn.
A Word from the Black Belts at Vortexic
At Vortexic, our black belts take their rank and responsibilities seriously. In their own words, two of them describe what their rank means to them:
“I believe that there are three main points to what it means to be a black belt. The one I think is the most important is for a black belt to live by the 5 tenets of taekwondo: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. Being a black belt also means that you value your experience as a martial artist and demand respect for your efforts, especially those in your journey going from white to black belt. Last but not least, a black belt has pride in his/her self as martial artist.”
“Being a black belt has defined me as the person I am today. It represents years of hard work and a desire to always improve myself. It has instilled a sense of respect for myself and others.”
How Can You Become a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do?
Whether you are new to Tae Kwon Do or you have been studying for a while, you probably see that black belt as your goal. That’s good! A black belt gives you a focal point with clearly defined steps on how to get there.
Tae Kwon Do students are ranked by colored belts. As each level of study is mastered, the student moves up in rank. At first, it may only take a few months to move to the next rank. As each level gets progressively harder, it takes a bit more time. Finally, after mastering each of the levels, you are tested in proficiency and if you pass – you get your “degree” – a black belt.
The first step in getting a black belt in Tae Kwon Do is the easiest. Just call and schedule a class. We offer complimentary classes to anyone wanting to know more about Tae Kwon Do.
Check out what we teach. Visit with our black belts. Find out from them firsthand how Tae Kwon Do has developed them into the people they are today.
There is nothing to lose! Call us today. Vortexic MA