Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Till You Die!

One of the first questions most new students ask when joining the dojo is, "How long does it take to earn a Black Belt?" This is a good question...however, not always an easy one to answer. Without getting too philosophical with a new person, I typically respond, "About five years."

Getting to the coveted Black Belt can be an arduous road. It is full of hard work, sweat, some blood, bruises, fear, anxiety and of course, it is just plain fun!

One of the most important things I will tell a new student is that the Black Belt is not the end....it is the beginning. I know it can deflate some people's aspirations, but it is true. A Black Belt is technically proficient in the art...but this is just the springboard to greater things. If a student is in a hurry to get a Black Belt I try to help them understand that this is a lifelong adventure.

When I put a Black Belt around someone I know they are a 'lifer'. If they are just looking for a trophy Black Belt they won't make it in Zen Goshindo. They will get weeded out and generally will go find somebody who will give them that Black Belt in one to two years.

For me, I feel the body needs to mature with consistent training. I can 'feel' when the body and the mind has matured into a Black Belt. For myself, it is an intuitive thing. I don't have a cookie cutter curriculum for students to follow. Afterall, we are all different, with different needs.

I have two students preparing for their Shodan testing at the end of the month. Both have seasoned over the years and have those five years in. Their skills are good and most importantly, I know these two guys are lifers.

Reminds me of a story from the Zen world. A student monk asks the master how long do we train. The master responds, "Till you die." These are the students I want. We do this till we die. Black Belts will show up as long as you just keep training.

Hands palm to palm,



  1. Maybe you should add up with Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Belt :D :D :D

    My... fresh look of your blog :)

  2. It's sad to say, but I think some styles already have such things!

    Still playing with blog...feeling creative...must be spring!

  3. Hi Shinzen 'lifer',

    You've got that spring cleaning bug again haven't you? ;-)

    Great post . . I'm playing catch up with everyone, not been on blogger much due to Easter and other commitments . . see you around!