Black Belt Respect
By Master Howard Hu, 4th Dan
I just want to share some thoughts with you about being a black belt, and as a martial artist. Many of the teachings in various Martial Art styles across the world originated from China (a country/civilization that heavily incorporates Confucianism into their way of life, including Martial Arts). You will find Confucius idealism in Bushido/Karate, Kung Fu, Tang Soo Do and obviously… Taekwondo. This is why as a Taekwondo practitioner, we are taught to not just memorize but to truly understand the six tenets and the Confucius Poem. I assume I shouldn’t have to explain to you the meaning of the tenets nor the poem; instead I’m going to briefly tell you about “the Five Relations” in a society (also Confucius teaching). The five relations are:
1. The bond between parents and children.
2. The loyalty/righteousness between ruler and follower.
3. The courtesy between husband and wife.
4. The respect between older and younger siblings.
5. The trust between friends.
If the concepts of these relations are not maintained, then a society cannot achieve harmony. In a nutshell, it’s very important to have courtesy, respect and discipline toward others and yourself; especially to elders and those who are your mentors.
These are just a few of the examples I’d like to mention:
1. When instructors asks you a question or gives you instructions, you should ALWAYS respond with “Yes sir.” or “no sir.” Do not interrupt the instructor when he/she is preoccupied with something else and definitely do NOT talk until permission is asked/given.
2. Do not be standing against the wall or sitting down during class unless you were told to do so. If you show laziness during training, you obviously will never make any progress.
3. The dojang is a place where people train and study to improve themselves. If you enjoy doing Taekwondo then you should present a more serious attitude while you’re in the dojang. Not saying that there aren’t times when you can have fun but it all depends on the instructions given. Otherwise you appear to others as if you don’t take Taekwondo very seriously and I’m sure you wouldn’t want that misunderstanding to take place.
4. Being a senior student (especially a black belt), it’s supposed to show that you have understood all the basic concepts in martial arts both physically and mentally. Hence why black belt means “Combination of all colors.” You should be setting examples for the lower ranks, possibly even a role model for them to follow. Also understand that the black belt you wear around your waist not only represents what you SHOULD know, but also the school itself. When visitors from outside of the school sees a black belt not living up to the expectations, they will not only judge you but the school as whole (yes, including the Masters). That is one of your responsibilities as a black belt.
5. If you’re already at the dojang before class, you really shouldn’t have any reason to be late to class. (i.e. texting on the cell phone or wait til’ very last minute to change into your uniform then ask to participate class late).
You may disagree with me or think I’m too old-school, but the fact is, a lot of us who’s been studying Martial Arts for decades now take martial arts very seriously. It’s not just some exercise class we take once or twice a week for fun but it‘s part of who are. Please think twice next time before doing anything that would give any negative impressions.
Article Submitted by Master Howard Hu – Master Instructor of the Jun Tong Taekwon-Do Federation