I've spent 4 years in a mirrored maze as a black belt. What I mean is, when I thought I was good I actually got a little more tangled in the maze. I would see myself in the mirror and I knew 1 way out, but now I need to know all the ways out. I realized I didn't really know as much as I thought, and couldn't do certain things as good as I thought; like I had seen in the mirror. Despite my efforts to enrich my martial life through practice and reading, alot didn't come to fruition until about the last 6-8 mos. by continuing to coming to class and passing along my knowledge to the dojo.
Being a black belt isn't what you think it is. In your own little world you'll think you're good at your kata, kumite, and defense techniques. It's not as glamorous as the average person thinks it is. As a well-practiced karateka you will discover it is the most difficult part of the journey. Getting to black belt was fun and rewarding, don't misunderstand me, and it took alot of hard work, but now the mental challenge and patience comes in.
Karateka's in the dojo look to you, their Sensei, to know the answers to their questions and perform technique flawlessly. I've learned by being in the maze that those expectations were actually my own because after all, "I was a black belt!" I've had to look inwardly to see and admit to myself that I'm not as good as I thought, and I'm okay with that now. Now I can enjoy my blunderings, and thrive during moments of discovery. I am much happier with where I am now that I've gotten off my own high horse. I would be hard on myself on how I should be better at a technique or kata, when in fact it's just a matter time. Time is our friend, do not rush it, do not pilfer it either. Time and practice is what will help us to be where we see ourselves in those mirrors. The learning through ourselves and others occurs much faster with this open mindedness.
The responsibility of carrying on the art is also a challenge. Keeping it as pure as possible, yet lending it to become your own art is a conflict of itself. Do not rush this part of it; it will come. Thinking of different ways to explain or show techniques in order to open the eyes for discoveries for other karateka can be challenging, but at the same time extremely rewarding. They may not 'get it' the first time you mention it, or the 100th time you mention it, but when you see it happen it is very gratifying.
Part of getting to the rank of black belt is struggling with the basics, the repetitions, and the many plateau's. It's how you perceive and manage those moments in your journey is what will make the difference. That is where the most learning will occur so never push it off to the side - Enjoy The Ride.
I'll sum it all up with a quote from a plaque my sister gave me years ago: "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts". Happy training,
- Sensei Laura (A.K.A - Uma)
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'Pilgrimage'
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'Getting Married'
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'Reality Fighting'
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'Kumite in the mind'
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'Daily Training'
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'Power Of Belief'
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'Your own Legend'
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'Accepting versus Blocking'
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'Reality and the Ring'
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'Egoless'
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'Squandering Priceless Gifts'
Sensei's Corner Archive - 'A Fair Fight'