Coach's corner 4/20/2015
I have touched upon this before but I feel it needs a little deeper exploration; until the 1st UFC, Martial Arts in North America were dominated by people that relied more on the color of their belt then their actual skill. There are still many people forcing this upon inexperienced pawns but not as many as in years past.
I don’t think the value of anyone in the martial arts is based solely on one’s ability to fight. I do believe a Black Belts worth can be measured on teaching ability as much as if not more than fighting ability. To teach something well you have to fully understand it. A natural athlete in elite shape can apply poor technique highly effectively at times. We can celebrate knowledge as well as competitive success with rank. I believe in celebrating accomplishments in the arts equally but also understanding how these accomplishments can be used to benefit the group overall. Successful fighters don’t always make the best coaches or administrators and coaches can’t always fight. This divide doesn’t lessen one’s value; it is just a simple reality in Martial Arts.
No matter what your rank, competitive situation, or teaching ability; I believe it is important that barring injury, one has an unbroken chain of training to call themselves a martial artist. Just because you once trained a champion, were a champion or won a tournament, does not make you a martial artist for life. You may once have been but if you stopped training now, you are now somebody that used to be a martial artist. You can put on your belt and tell nice stories but you have to train to put any weight behind that rank. A black belt is simply a black piece of cloth if you don’t have the knowledge and skill to back it up. Anyone can buy a belt and wrap it around their waist but only those with skill, knowledge, and ability have the ability to wear the rank.
I am in no way disrespecting the accomplishments of anyone or diminishing the value of people’s experience. You do not have to be a lifer to maintain respect. In many cases the martial arts training one has done early in life has laid the foundations for future successes outside the dojo. I do believe that this is the ultimate truth of training and should be celebrated as much if not more so then the victories one can achieve thru prize fighting. It’s all about perspective. To maintain respect once you walk away, you must show respect for those still in the fight and live in a way that is respectful of the principles you once were trained. The same for those in the fight, you have a fight to fight due to those that came before you. By looking both ahead and back we can get a better appreciation for all of it.
When I see out of shape and overweight people that stopped training years ago wearing black belts that look like bow ties, I am disgusted. You don’t have to stay in the same shape as when you were in your prime, but you should be above average if you wish to stay current. If you choose to not achieve that minimal level of commitment anymore, don’t put on your gi or wear that belt. If you choose to be a senior member of a group, you should lead by example. The younger members need to know that there is training past your prime and that martial arts are a lifetime activity, not just a sport for the young. If you do decide to get fat and let it all go, don’t criticize or demand from those still struggling.
Respect is earned daily.
At 40, with full-time job, dojo to run, team to train, plus a wife and 1 year old son at home – I fought a 5 round professional Muay Thai fight. Why, because I truly believe what I wrote above. Just because life is more complicated today than it was 20 years ago, I have no excuse to not train and strive for great things within my arts. I still train daily and I sweat right alongside my students. I can’t do everything I once was able too but I still try. In doing I am still living. I am not perfect and I can be a dick at times, but you can never say I am not living as a Martial Artist and doing all that I can to maintain the principles I was originally taught as a child in the arts.
See you on the mat!
Killer B Combat Sports