During the last fifteen years of teaching karate for kids I have watched many obtain their black belts. I have also sadly watched many give up. It is especially heart-breaking to see them quit when they are close to obtaining black belt level. Why do some make it and some drop out? I strongly believe if you follow the following steps, you will have what it takes to pass the ultimate test–the black belt.
1. Give the Sensei your full attention. Look and listen when he or she is talking. You will learn a lot more. If someone is talking to you while the Sensei is explaining something, ignore them.
2. Focus your energy and thoughts on what you are doing–never mind what else is happening in the class. Visualize how each move would work against an attacker.
3. Stances are the key to success in all martial arts. Perfect the horse, cat, bow, sparring, or whatever stance your style teaches and you will be on your way to black belt.
4. Realize it takes many years of training to perfect your moves. Be patient with yourself, relax, and enjoy the process of learning and mastering the art.
5. Ignore anyone who says “You are not good at Karate/Kung Fu, etc.”. It does not matter what they think. You will be excellent in the martial arts if you put forth your best efforts.
6. Do not compare yourself to others in the class. Many of us are not gifted athletes, but we can be our best with practice. Your goal is self-improvement, and this will happen with time and effort.
7. Practice all your moves outside of class at least once a week. You will be amazed at the difference this makes and the Sensei will notice.
8. Try to keep yourself fit and flexible. Build up your heart and lungs. Running, swimming, bicycling, or any other activity that gets your heart pumping are the best. Do your stretches regularly so your kicks and punches have greater reach and you have less chance of injury.
9. Be dedicated to your training. There will be times when you don’t feel like going to martial arts class due to the weather or lack of energy. Go anyway and you will be glad you did. It will build your self-disclipine and you will feel great once you get there and start doing it.
10. Do not focus too much on the belts–they are not as important as the lessons you learn on your martial arts journey.