Congratulations on your achievement! You are now the proud owner of a brand-new black belt!
Unlike the belts you wore prior to this, black belts are a particular and peculiar breed. It’s as if you’ve graduated from goldfish to your first salt-water aquarium, and the lifespan of your black belt will be significantly enhanced if you learn a bit more about its habits and needs.
- Change the story from “getting” to “having.”
For some new black belt owners, all the focus of the last few years has been on getting their black belt, and now that they have it, they’re feeling a bit like it’s Christmas afternoon – the presents are all open, the excitement has passed, and they’re feeling that weirdly let-down sensation that follows the big hoorah of getting new stuff.
The best way to combat that angst is to change the story. “Getting” your black belt is not the point. “Having” your black belt is. You’re at the beginning of a journey, rather than the end, which can help adjust your expectations and feelings.
- Black belts require a great deal of exercise!
You’ve just finished up two or more years of intense activity – learning a difficult and large syllabus of material, monthly testing, and the re-learning of almost all your techniques and hyung. You’ve been a martial arts machine!
Now that you’re wearing a black belt, it’s useful to remember that level of training that you’ve gotten used to. While you may want to bask in the more relaxed pace of “not testing,” it’s a good idea to keep your black belt occupied and exercised. New black belts who drop back to 2-3 hours of class per week with no testing or instructor hours can start feeling aimless and disconnected. Keep up a fairly intense schedule of training or up your instructor hours (or start instructor training), and you’ll give your black belt the exercise it needs and deserves.
- Find your focus.
The reason that “getting” your black belt was such a compelling story is that it had laser focus – everything was intensely trained on that one goal. Now that you’re all about the “having,” finding a new focus can provide that same motivation. Maybe it’s instructing, maybe it’s competing, maybe it’s getting ready to test for Kyo Sa Nim in 2 years (which requires 500 class hours!) – identifying and naming a new goal to focus on is a great way to make you a healthier, happier black belt owner.
Congratulations on becoming the proud owner of a black belt! Here’s to many years to come.