THE JOURNEY OF TAEKWON-DO
All of us begin our training for different reasons. We all do consider the prospect of becoming a Black Belt one-day, but at our first training session that goal seems along way away. In fact the student who begins training with the specific goal of becoming a Black Belt, are usually the least likely to achieve it because they become discouraged easily and aren’t prepared for the commitment required. Most of us begin training for self-defense or for fitness, sometimes even because it is a challenge. Whatever the reason, the student is an ordinary person who begins the extraordinary journey on the path to becoming a Black Belt.
The White Belt
The white belt by definition is a ‘beginner with no previous knowledge of Tae Kwon Do’. As some may remember being a white belt is a very daunting experience. You have to stand down the back of the class and everything you do is brand new. You feel clumsy and awkward as you try to perform the techniques as you learn them. You see the Black Belts at the head of the class and they look intimidating because they appear so confident. As a white belt, the student will learn all the basic fundamental movements. Stances, basic attack and defense techniques are drilled out continuously, all in preparation for the next phase of training.
The Yellow Belt
“Yellow signifies earth from which the plant sprouts and takes root as the Tae Kwon Do foundation is being laid” (Gen. Choi Hong Hi). At this stage the student is learning their second pattern, “Dangun”. At this point you feel more confident. You have been training for several months and the training is becoming a part of your weekly routine. You are learning more about the techniques and there application. The only real goal in mind is your next belt.
The Green Belt
“Green signifies the plant’s growth as the Taekwon-Do skill begins to develop” (Gen. Choi Hong Hi). This is the point where things get really exciting. You are learning Won-Hyo, your forth pattern. You are developing strength, control and you begin to notice that you have started using your legs to do things that you used to use your hands for, like opening doors or moving chairs. You have the bug.
The Blue Belt
“Blue signifies heaven towards which the plant matures into a towering tree as training in Tae Kwon Do progresses” (Gen. Choi Hong Hi, 1999). At this point the student’s progress begins to slow down. The original reasons for joining Taekwon-Do have been long since forgotten. Tae Kwon Do has become more than a hobby, it’s a way of life. The student has competed in a number of tournaments and attended seminars. Every now and then the student also helps out with events such as demonstrations and community events.
The Red Belt
“Red signifies danger, cautioning the student to exercise control and warning the opponent to stay away” (Gen. Choi Hong Hi, 1999). The student now has the goal of becoming a Black Belt firmly in their sights. The goal can be very humbling as the student often waits on red belt for a period of about a year, sometimes more. Many thoughts come to mind, “Am I really ready for my Black Belt”? The thought of going from senior gup student to a 1st Degree Black seems like a big jump. Often the student who believes that they deserve their Black Belt is the one who is probably a long way from it. Many students see it as the end of their training, the highest achievement in their art. It is easy to understand this misconception because it is the last color belt the student will receive. Of all the gup ranks, red belt demands the greatest growth and maturity of the student as they prepare to become Black Belts.
The Black Belt
“Opposite of white, therefore, signifying the maturity and proficiency in Tae Kwon Do” (Gen. Choi Hong Hi, 1999). The new beginning. The student has undertaken their grading and have proven their worth. They have demonstrated maturity and an understanding of the five tenants of Tae Kwon Do. You don’t feel different but you know that you have changed. The student looks back on the years that have passed since they were that timid white belt at the back of the class. You remember the faces of the training partners that have come and gone and the people that inspired you along the way. You remember the challenges you faced and how they don’t seem that difficult anymore. While reviewing your own journey you see that the Black Belt itself is not as important as the lessons learned along the way.