What if you aren’t a black belt though? Does that mean you are somehow insignificant? Absolutely not! I think that regardless of whatever rank a student attains that they should always strive to be the best that they can be, and be proud of their accomplishments. If you are an orange belt, you should strive to be the best orange belt around. You should hold being the best as your standard. If you do, you won’t be an orange belt for long.
Students who focus solely on their ability, and don’t worry about rank, advance quicker and seem to be happier as well. I am a firm believer that you have to be happy regardless of where you are on your journey. If you are only happy when you attain your goal, you will be pretty miserable most of the time.
Years ago a friend of mine gave me a great piece of wisdom and said, “You earn your black belt long before you get it.” That always stuck with me, and I liked the way it emphasized being what you think a black belt means now, rather than trying to somehow become it later. Set your intention. It is important to focus on being the best that you can be, regardless of rank. In the end, we are all judged by our abilities. Be the best that you can, and the rank will come to you.
I always took the idea of being a black belt as an incredible responsibility. To me, it meant that I was representing my art, and my teacher. I felt like I was an ambassador and representative for my art. That made me work twice as hard, to live up to the standards I set for myself. It has been many years and I still feel the same sense of responsibility.