Welcome to The Belt Journey section of the GKR Karate website. In this section you will have access to a wealth of information on each belt grade. It will provide you with both education and inspiration for your karate journey from beginner to black belt and beyond!
You’re likely aware of the old adage, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. When Lao Tzu wrote this, he intimated a number of things, all of which can be relevant to the journey we take not only throughout our lives, but also throughout our karate journey.
1. It Teaches Us That Overwhelming Projects Appear More Manageable If They Are Broken Up Into Smaller Tasks
Many people set big goals, quite often the goals may seem so big that the idea of actually achieving them can seem overwhelming and even out of our reach. Whether it is wanting to lose a large amount of weight to get back to a state of health and well-being, saving for a deposit on your first house, or setting the goal to achieve a black belt in karate, all of these goals can all conjure up overwhelming feelings.
Breaking your long term goals down into bite size chunks will not only give you a clear plan of attack, it will create a sense of believability and certainty.
In karate, we have multiple stepping stones, or rungs on a ladder (coloured belts) that help us to break down our long term goals into smaller, more manageable goals. This is the essence of the belt journey in karate.
If an instructor was to lay out all the skills, principles and knowledge required to become a black belt (and beyond) to every new student, you could bet that most would find it far too overwhelming. So much so most might quit karate and miss out on all the physical, mental and emotional benefits it has to offer. And for those who would take up the challenge, they would not know where to start, what to work on first or even the process for developing each skill, principle or habit etc.
Laying out a structured grading criteria, or Journey, for each and every belt grade, in terms of Kihon (basic training), Kata (forms) and Kumite (combat), provides each student with a clear direction of what to work on, in what order, and how to go about this. Ultimately, the training formats and grading system have been set up to help a student navigate the journey from white belt to black belt and beyond.
- A thick tree grows from a tiny seed.
- A tall building arises from a mound of earth.
- And a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
2. It Helps Us To Understand That Action Must Precede Motivation
When a person feels overwhelmed by a long journey ahead, they often sit back, plan everything out, and talk about what they are going to do… some day. No journey truly begins until we actually take action (that first step). So what is it that prevents most people from taking their first step? Motivation.
Too many people make the mistake of sitting back and waiting in hope for motivation to kick in. They anticipate that once motivation arrives, they will commence their journey. Enlightened people understand that motivation does not hit us like a bolt of lightening, instead it comes as a by-product of action. It is not until we start taking action (taking even a single step) that we start to feel the motivation to finish the long journey ahead.
There may be numerous times on your Journey where you feel motivation has abandoned you. This will happen in any Journey. The key is to keep taking steps, keep moving, rather than to sit back and wait. Sometimes the journey will be easy, other times the road may appear rocky, with many obstacles on the path. Such is the case of any worthwhile journey.
Motion creates emotion, we can’t wait until someone else motivates us into action. What if they don’t show up? We are responsible for our own motivation, and that quite often means taking the first step towards achieving our goals. Kancho Robert Sullivan has spoken about ‘the magic being in the first few punches’. He describes his own training regime and how often he too will feel the urge to not train. However, as he forces himself to get into the training session and starts with the first few punches (or any technique for that matter), he begins to feel good about training, gets an instant hit of endorphins as the blood start to pump through his body, and his motivation to train intensifies almost immediately.