I Am A Black Belt Martial Arts Instructor. Ask Me Anything.

I have been teaching Martial Arts for about 10 year now. I like talking about martial arts because by answering the questions others have, I grow my self as a Martial Artist. I am a black belt martial arts instructor. Ask me Anything...
Chrmingo Chrmingo
26-30, M
5 Responses Jul 20, 2010

Anymous3 - Thats good that you know how you enjoy learning Martial Arts. With that knowledge it should help you find a Martial Arts school that fits you. I started off my taining in a blended school. The ba<x>se was built of of Kenpo, but it blended in TKD, Boxking, Maui-Thai kick Boxing, Jui-Jitsu, and at black belt you began work with Escrima and Kubudo. Since then I have also explored Iaido and Braziallian Jui-Jitsu in more depth. <br />
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As for the uilts being a unhealthy obsessions, I agree and Disagree. I agree that belts can become a unhealthy obssesion, but I think this happens when people look at belts in the Martial Arts as a means to a endt. Their only goal is to earn belts to get their black belt, as if Black Belt is the completion of your Martial Arts training. <br />
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The reason I disagree though is because of my understanding of the eveloution in the implementation of belts in the Martial Arts over time. At my dojo it was taught to every white belt that you are never to wash your belt, washing your belt would be like washing away all your wisdom. This tradition stemmed from the way martial arts use to be, where you would only receive one belt, your white belt. The way you would become a black belt one day is from years of training in the dirt, all the sweat, and blood would build up on your white belt and eventually turn it black. This was great for traditional hardcore Martial Arts who used Martial Arts to survive and as a way of life, however as Martial Arts shifted from a sub-culture to a main stream activity, the belt system evolved with it and adapted to this influx of diversity of personality in Martial Arts. Now you had Stay at home parents, computer techs and others training right along side people who job was to fight. To adapt so such diversity, someone (I don't know who or when) decided to use belts as a way to create tangible goals for everyone. Goals that were defined more by knowledge and less by the actual use of the technique. So while the Warrior did not care about what color the belt was around his waste, just as long as he could defend himself, the same belt could be used to help motivate the computer tech. Brazillian Jui-Jitsu I think is a nice example of this middle shift. The school I went to had 5 belts including black belts. However the more commercialized Martial Arts has become, more belts were added and more curriculum between white and black, so people would have more short term goals to achieve and keep them motivated on their journey to black belt, and unfortunately also to make money by many karate schools.<br />
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For me when I look at a Karate schools belt system, I like to know ba<x>sed on their progression patteren, what is the shortest amount of time you can earn a black belt, also how much curriculum is taught at each belt. A good Martial Arts school in my opinion would have a balanced amount of curriculum with the process of earning your black belt taking from 3-5 years (Depending on your frequency of training.) <br />
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The beautiful thing though, while all of this is true, most people who do make the journey to black belt, realize that the black belt is a really cool honor and display of your commitment, but that the true achievement is within who they have become as a individual, and that it was about the journey to black belt, more then the black belt it self. I joke with my students, if you want a black belt you can go to the store and get a belt thats black for $10 dollars, but you still won't be a black belt.

Thanks for the quick answer!<br />
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Here is how I'd like my martial arts life to be, you go to the dojo1-2 times a week and when you go there the Sifu/Sensei gives you a kata to practice or tells you to study fallint/thrwoing with someone. <br />
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I dont like the group thing and I dont care for moving forward as a group that just means that you are lowering the overall quality of the martial artists in the entire group. Sure teamwork is one thing and should be practiced, like how do you defend yourself if you are two ppl against two or more aggressors (when running isnt an option and the defusing isnt possible). <br />
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Sure standards are nice but even if you have a standard it really wont do any good. I remember when I was at the Swedish National Championship of KungFu watching diferent kata performances and different fights. My trainer at that time was a blue belt and had chosen to stay a blue belt one year longer instead of going black, since there had been a change in what was required of a blue belt. He didn't have to do this but did it anyway. We met a young guy who had trained a different school of kung fu. He was a yellow belt whcih is usually the lowest belt in most kung fu schools. Though he had been yellow in 5 years time and was just about to change to green. Apparently their blets had nothing to do with what you knew and had nothing to do with tests, it was just a measurement of how long you had trained. so after five years you got a new belt and after somting like 20 years you could get a masters belt if the maste of your dojo and an international examiner thought you had wat it took to be a master. <br />
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At least that's how I remember the grading system. It struck me as a very democratic way of administrating belts and a way to take away all the glory and drama around getting belts. Wich I find there is an unhealty obsession with in most martial arts that ive tried. I started out when I was 13 with jujitsu and have tried different schools ever since. <br />
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The only one that I have really like was tranlo ming since they in Sweden dont focus on tournaments but rather that it should be fun to learn and to have fun with firends. I staid there for a year before moving and have unfortunatly not had the money to join a club again. <br />
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The contradictions in martial arts as you say are many and quite amusing at times, especially the older and more cultural contradictions. <br />
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How did you start as a martial artist and which style/school do you teach?

To: Anymous3 <br />
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For me you touched on one of my favorite parts about martial arts. While progress and achievements in martial arts are based on the individual, the format (for most martial arts schools) of group class's, and group promotions allow for you to still take part in the benefits of a team sport or group activity. And as for grading, I think that's a illusion, one used in the beginning to help motivate people, until they understand how to motivate themselves.<br />
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I think what you are describing in your question, comes from your higher realization of what Martial Arts is truly about. Something you have to come to understand on your own. That Martial Arts is a way of life, it is not a hobby, or something that you do. (Although for many people, it is this in the beginning) But Martial Arts is the journey of self discovery. With every class, every challenge, and every punch defining who you are and who you want to be.<br />
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One of my Instructors once told me that "You must have a plan in order to deviate from it, otherwise your just mindlessly wondering." In the beginning of any Martial Arts, there is structure, a core, a plan. But the higher you go the farther you travel, the more freedom you have to define your Martial Arts experience and your self.<br />
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For me if when I find contradiction in Martial Arts now days, I smile, because I see this as a challenge to find answers and another opportunity to better define myself and Martial Arts for my students.

I am a really big nerd, always has been and have always been harrased through out my school life and most of my nemises has allwyas been sport jocks <br />
(I'm now past uni and starting my own biz at the age of 28) . This has led to two things. <br />
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1. I loath and have no respect what so ever for teamsports and their pla<x>yers. Its just a deeply seated disgust. I know, I'm working on it. <br />
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2. I'm a super individualist who loves games and sports where you play against your self and your own results. So I am very faschinated by martial arts. <br />
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But there is one thing I really don't get at all with almost all martial arts that I have tried (Judo, Jijitsu, Aikido, Trahn-Lo Ming Shaolin and Karate) and that is the obsession with gradings and that a whole group has to graduate together. It seems to me to ante-thematic to the very core of martial arts. <br />
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Can you shed some lights on this?

The ultimate lesson martial arts teaches us, is not how to win the fight, but how to avoid it. With that said, not every fight can be avoided. There is no "easy" way to defend yourself against someone who is stronger then you, however that does not mean you should just stand there and do nothing if you are attacked. My suggestion would be to look for their weakness, and focus on your strengths. Also softening techniques are effective tools you can use to employ a stun and run strategy. No matter how many push ups, or sit ups someone does, a good kick to the groin or palm strike to the nose will still cause some damage, and hopefully provide you with the window of opportunity to escape to safety.