To be a Black Belt...

or not to be.

First of all, Happy New Year... let's crush it and do many great things and blah blah blah.  

If you've kept your resolutions 7 days from now, then you are deserving of my congratulations and encouragement.  Email me then, and you shall have it. 

Next week I shall announce the results of the fundraiser!  This is merely to remind you of what a good person I am, before I show you what a terrible person I am. 

I recently uncovered this heartwarming story on the news...

And while you should always click the links so that my email robots don't eventually eject you from the newsletter, it is the story of a young woman with down syndrome who was finally given her black belt in Karate after four years of hard work. 

Four years.


Now, I'm all for celebrating each other's accomplishments, and I commend everyone who participates in martial arts, but if someone has a black belt, they're supposed to be able to f*** you up.

A black belt is meant to be a sign of not only discipline, but mastery...

If you are a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, you are expected to represent Jiu Jitsu on behalf of everyone who practices it.

It is not a sign that you have participated for a certain DURATION of time.

It's not a sign that you have completed a LIST of required moves. 

As such, when a black belt is given to those who are not masters, it unfortunately devalues black belts for those who have truly earned them.

For this reason, every time I wander past a Karate school completely filled with 8 year old black belts, I want to walk in and start punching children in the face.  

Yes... I am a terrible person.  But if I can beat the crap out of 36 black belts simultaneously, then surely I must be an Infrared Belt... or an Ultra Violet belt... I can't decide which one sounds cooler.

Look... I understand that 'rewards systems' keep people in the game longer.  Perhaps this is why Jiu Jitsu practitioners are awarded 'degrees' on each belt; after all, you might be a purple belt for 5 years.  A little acknowledgment of your development during that time does go a long way.

But acknowledgement should not come at the expense of the black belt itself.

After all, if a room full of 8 year olds can be black belts, then what sort of levitating, magical belt should these folks be awarded?

Watch that video.

That level of skill is absolutely bananas.  If you leave your house wearing a winter jacket, every person in that video will be able to throw you on your head, and probably choke you to sleep with it.  EVEN THE WOMEN.  (Unless you, of course, are equally skilled).

THAT, to me, is what a black belt means.  It means 'unless you are on this level', you're about to get messed up.

I appreciate a heart warming story as much as the next guy...

...kinda like when muggers get the crap beat out of them by female black belts.  

But if you happen to be the owner of a martial arts school, let's present these honors in the context in which they deserve to be presented.

Keep the belt pure, and offer encouragement with your words.

Happy New Year!


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Humans like to talk about things.

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