A black belt is just another name for a white belt who never gave up!
What makes black belts special? Is it that they can do a perfect reverse side kick? Or that they can bust out a form with 96 moves? Or is that they can teach a class, inspire others and be a leader?
While all those things are impressive, it’s actually something much simpler. It’s that they set a goal and achieved it. When you see that belt confidently tied around somebody’s waist here at Karate for Kids in Mesa, it means a lot more than you think. That belt is a sign of the struggle. It’s a sign of prestige and a sign of achievement. That belt is a visible reminder of that person’s character.
That belt represents the hours of practice they invested at the academy. It represents the times they didn’t want to keep going, but did anyway. It represents the tournaments they drove long distances to attend, the time they spent mentoring students, the fears they had to overcome, the obstacles that stood in their path which they blasted through. And all the other sacrifices it takes to become a black belt. That’s why you can’t earn a black belt overnight. It’s a process and it takes time.
The “Law of the Farm”
We live in a quick-fix, short-term, “instant-results” culture. This often clashes with our traditional martial arts values. Our society’s focus on urgency and immediacy is also at odds with natural laws and what Stephen Covey (best-selling author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) calls the “Law of the Farm”. He says, “The only thing that endures over time is the law of the farm: I prepare the ground, put in the seed, cultivate, weed, water, and nurture growth”. He goes on: “In school, many of us procrastinate and then successfully cram for tests. But does cramming work on a farm? Can you go two weeks without milking the cow, and then get out there and milk like crazy? Can you “forget” to plant in the spring, goof off all summer, and then hit the ground real hard in the fall to bring in the harvest?”
Of course not. And I’m here to tell you: It doesn’t work that way in martial arts, either. Every black belt you see at Karate for Kids in Mesa understands the law of the farm (whether they call it that or not) and puts it to work for them. In fact, ask anyone who has achieved success in any field and they’ll agree. Small, sustainable investments of time over a long period are the driving force behind most success in life.
How Are You Investing Your Time?
Every one of us has 168 hours in a week. You, me, even Chief Masters have 168 hours in a week. How is it then, that some people achieve so much more than others? The answer is simple: it’s not the amount of time we have in a week that matters…it’s what we do with time that makes the difference between greatness and mediocrity.
What does the average teenager do with that time? Here’s how: They spend 31 hours a week online. They spend 22 hours a week watching TV and 11 hours hanging around with friends. Seven hours a week instant messaging. Two to three hours a day listening to (or downloading) music. That adds up to 73 hours! And it doesn’t include school, sleep or meals!
So when I hear somebody say they don’t have time for exercise (or go to class), I know they’re fooling themselves. It all comes down to how badly you want to achieve your goal. Is it worth investing four hours a week to achieve greatness? To achieve that black belt (or next degree!) that nobody can take away from you?
And ask yourself this: How many hours do you devote to martial arts? How much time do you practice outside of class? Are you paying the price for the result you want?
Our Actions Add Up
To my mind, one of the most important “success ingredients” in becoming a black belt is consistency–the willingness to stick it out when others have given up.
I don’t care how talented you are. I don’t care how much experience you have. I don’t care how athletic you are. I don’t even care how agile, flexible or strong you are. If you’re consistent and stick with it, you win. It’s just that simple.
Fulfilling Your Own Potential
Remember: The bigger the obstacle, the bigger the reward on the other side. You must pay the price for anything you want to achieve in life. Here’s a great example of that: I remember a guy who had the most incredible set of abs anybody had ever seen. A true beach body. He looked like a fitness model. Somebody casually said to him, “I wish I had abs like that”. He snapped back, “No you don’t. You don’t want to do the 500 crunches I do every day”. The Law of the Farm states that there is no such thing as something for nothing. You must pay the price for anything you wish to achieve. Are you willing to pay the price to achieve greatness? To look in the mirror proudly one day and see that black belt tied around your waist?
And here’s another “dirty little secret” of achievement. You don’t have to work that much “harder” than anybody else – you just have to stick with it longer. This is the concept called “winning by default”. This simply means that you can beat 90% of the pack just by sticking with it while they slack off or quit. It means you sustain your actions and they don’t, and you avoid anything that breaks your focus. You win “by default” because you’re still standing long after they gave up.
So this summer, I want you to work harder than you ever have before. Keep in mind that there will be distractions competing for your time. Don’t give in to them. Don’t break your focus. Stick to your goals and by the end of the summer, you’ll be one step closer to the prize than everybody else. You’ll have won by “default”; you’ll have learned why they say a “black belt is just another name for a white belt that didn’t give up”. You’ll have mastered the law of the farm and learned an important life lesson.
— Senior Master Babin