Many people begin training on their first day with the goal to achieve the coveted black belt. From all who start, it’s commonly said that only 1 in 1000 pursue the years of training to achieve black belt status. For those who are willing to go the distance, what happens next? Many will stop training, but some will give themselves a new martial arts goal to progress their journey onwards. Since I’ve stayed on my martial arts journey, I’ve been frequently asked why. Why do practitioners still train after achieving their black belt? And, more specifically, why don’t I focus on something else? Whilst I cannot speak for others, because each martial arts journey is unique, in this article, I share my own reasons for why I keep training after black belt and the value I find it brings to my journey in life.
Health and fitness: A mobile workout
This is my most important reason for why I keep training after black belt. (Check out my article ‘How I went from unfit to become a black belt’, where I share with you where my journey into health and fitness all began). Sure, I go to the gym quite often each week, however, I can’t take the equipment home with me. Doing a martial art means that I can have a great and varied workout anywhere and anytime I want to, regardless of the space and equipment available. I consider each workout to advance my overall health and fitness. Health is so important and arguably one of the key areas that many of us take for granted until we lose it. I therefore see my ability to have a mobile workout as a good investment towards my overall health and fitness – especially if I miss a day at the gym or I’m in the mood for an additional workout in the comfort of my own home. I couldn’t do anything else self-directed for even half as long.
It’s an amazing feeling when you realise that you can now do something that you couldn’t before. I feel martial arts offer a huge variety in this space: from punches and kicks, to body conditioning and flexibility. Even more than that, not many people into fitness are working towards or reap the rewards from martial arts gains. It’s quite addictive once you start setting goals and surpass them, and not to mention the respect you’ll get from others enthusiastic about fitness. It becomes ‘your thing’. I keep training after black belt to see how far I can push my abilities.
The quest for knowledge
Before I achieved my black belt, some black belt practitioners had told me that the ‘real’ training begins after the black belt. I didn’t understand what it meant then, but I do now: all the pre-black belt training is essentially building the foundations for the complexity that follows post-black belt. Where does the quest for knowledge come in? It comes from understanding what you do, how to do it, and why it’s done. The more you look into this, for different areas in training, the more you realise that you are the recipient of many hours, decades, and centuries of hard work by practitioners that came before you. That’s quite humbling and intriguing, which makes your mind work as well as your body.
To give something back
I think this one is inherent in my character. I love to give back and help people where possible. Relating to my martial arts journey, this has largely involved me assisting numerous instructors with teaching responsibilities. To me, it’s therefore really important that I keep training in order to set a standard to those I teach. Learners need to be inspired and to understand how techniques are done. This could be best achieved if you have the skill to demonstrate it well.
Since achieving the rank of 2nd Dan, I’ve wanted to raise the bar higher and do more to support as many practitioners as I can on their martial arts journey. I felt that I didn’t want to just limit my assistance to those I regularly meet. Many more people could and deserve to gain some value from my content. That’s where this blog, Beyond the Dojang, comes in.