When I first began my martial arts training, much elegance and mystique surrounded the Black Belt and all it represented. You thought of David Carradine in the Shaolin Temple lifting a boiling hot cauldron filled with water to open a door, symbolizing the start of his journey into the world. To this day, many non-martial artists think of the Black Belt as a prestigious accomplishment. To me, the Black Belt signifies the pursuit of excellence. It reveals the true character of the people who earn it and their dedication to continue to pursue their goal of becoming great at all they do. It is not just about how well they fight, but also how well they live their lives. The Black Belt mindset is not only physical, but also the three realms of consciousness: the physical, the mental and the spiritual. A true Black Belt has mastered these three realms, and lives as a master of them daily. The physical realm is where your journey as a martial artist begins. From the very first day of moves, you are on your physical journey. This journey can last a lifetime because the true masters work on the basics until they become second nature and have complete command of all the physical moves they’ve been taught. It is said it takes one thousand hours of practice on one single movement to master it. The mental realm is to the physical realm as two peas in a pod. The mental realm is often misunderstood. It can sometimes be quite tricky and elusive. Someone who has mastered the mental realm has mastered him or herself. Such a person is patient, compassionate, ego-less and empathetic. Your goal is to develop these qualities every day. A person who has mastered this realm knows he or she will make mistakes and must continually pursue his or her goals, regardless of the setbacks. The spiritual realm is confusing to many people because the word “spiritual” is often linked with religion. When I say, spiritual, I do not mean religion, but for those who are very religious, this can be your answer. When I teach my students, I speak of the spiritual realm as the source of what drives them, the very core of their motivation, the energy on which their bodies exists: not only the life-force of who they are, but also the link between their minds and bodies. The spiritual realm is the energy that forces you from your bed on a rainy day, that makes your smile when things look gloomy, and the driving force that gives you optimism in the face of adversity. This is the spirit of which I speak. Mastery of the three different realms is important for a Black Belt, but you don’t have to wait until you are a Black Belt to develop this life-skill. If you want to know more about how martial arts can help you increase your or your child’s honesty or anything else regarding either our adult or children’s’ programs, please feel free to contact the Ultimate Youth Sports Team.