Are you getting your monies worth?

I was raised by my initial instructor to believe a black belt meant something. If the black belt said, I did. No questions asked. The belt was the symbol of seniority and in many ways superiority. This all had nothing to do with reality. This was pure social conditioning. I let black belts say and do things that I would never let anyone else in my world get away with. This is the old school way of western people that got the eastern ways wrong. Since the 50’s, Americans in particular, mistook the hard ways of Asian men that couldn’t speak good English, and created an abusive system that simply, gets it really wrong.


Why should I do what a Senior tells me? What power does a Black Belt have? All of this is predicated on value, real or perceived. Call me crazy, but I would think a Senior should have an actual worth greater to if not equal to the demand being asked of juniors. The problem is that too many have been raised to believe that the color of their belt or years in service give them an automatic high value. This is why we have so many high ranking, broke, and abusive instructors in this world. They never got that nobody owes them anything because they took the abuse of somebody else many years ago. If I was going to gauge my value based on the bad things done to me on mats over the years, I would be a Billionaire!    

If I want to stand in front of a group of people that are paying good money to stand in front of me, I better be bringing something to the mat that has a value many times greater than their investment. I basic return on advertising to be considered successful is 3 times the investment. A real return on an investment with a coach should be at least 10 times the investment. What does the color of your belt do to give your followers a return? What do your past deeds do for your members?  The real answer is nothing. Where the value can be found is in the translation of your experience. If you are just going to tell stories with no meaning beyond expressing your past greatness, you are worthless. If you are going to share experience in a way that creates positive action in your members, you have a value. The depth of what you have learned and what you can translate into a functional system is where your value can be determined.

Old school is all about what you can do for me because of my rank. New school is all about what I can do for my members with everything I have learned through my experience. New school creates value by upping their game constantly to keep their value high and with their members investment constantly returning dividends.

When I trained under a true Japanese trained instructor here in the States and followed that up with training actually in Japan, I was never pushed so hard. The difference between my eastern instruction vs my western instruction was that my eastern instructors cared for me while my western instructors just kept beating me down. My Japanese instructor opened doors to places I never could have gone on my own, fed me, showed genuine interest in my well being, and never expected me to respect them to just respect them. I said Osu and called them Sensei and Sempai because they earned that right thru their daily actions for my betterment. My western instructors just told me what to do and tried to make me believe they were being “Japanese”.

I was fortunate to have good and bad trainers. Not all Eastern instruction are as nice as above. I have had bad Japanese instructors and great western instructors. For the most part, those that received authentic traditional training were the most humble, knowledgeable, and caring of the bunch. I find that the best instruction came from those that were trained to be part of a lineage. They were entrusted to carry on a tradition. They felt obligated to pass this on as well. It wasn’t about them, it was about the art they were custodians of. This created a much more selfless environment that produced good people, great results, and continued a positive evolution of a way.

What does all of this add up too? It is never about you. You are just a member of a group entrusted by all those that came before you to carry on a tradition. If you choose to act as if you are on an island, you will most likely end up alone talking to Wilson, wondering where everyone went, and bitter because the world just doesn’t get your genius. Sorry but, if you are that guy, you are probably not a genius. You are just another person who let their ego dictate their action instead of doing what they ask their students to do - check your ego at the door.

I challenge all leaders to strip away their titles and accomplishments to really see what is left. If you have nothing of value to offer, go back to being a student until you have figured out how to be a teacher instead of a figurehead.

Brian Wright

Killer B Combat Sports & Fitness Academy

Brian M WrightComment