In this day and age there is a lot of confusion of what it means to be a black belt. Does it mean you know everything in your style or that you can take on anyone in any situation? Does is it mean you have to be equivalent to a national or international level athlete? Does it mean that your training has to take several hours a night and be a very rough ordeal? Answers probably change from school to school and style to style.
The Bulsajo TKD philosophy is that a black belt is someone who has gained enough knowledge to understand the styles basics, can perform said basics well, has shown self-discipline with their training (both in and out of class), and has learned to deal with or overcome both their own personal struggles/obstacles as well as life’s ups and downs. Does this leave a lot of “gray” area? Yes. The fact is that there is a lot to learn and we don’t all have hours a day to train and perfect our skills. But if we stay focused, push ourselves, and never give up we can attain a very high level of understanding and ability.
Understanding Vs. Ability
It is part of the Bulsajo TKD black belt philosophy to put understanding above ability. Why? This is because there can be such a huge gap in ability based on age and size. In general (this is not always the case), a student who starts training at a younger age will more than likely out perform someone who starts later in life. But an older student will understand the lessons taught more quickly than the younger students and will still be able to help guide their juniors. In addition, students may be in shape or out of shape based on what is going on in their life and the strength of their self-discipline. Getting a student in shape and performing their techniques better is easier than getting a student to understand why we train a certain way or why we move a certain way etc.
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(All Dahn belts need to know the beginner, intermediate and advanced terminology and knowledge as well)