The meaning of black belt

Date: 19th April 2019
Author: Master J Bonthuys

The text book answer found in most Tae Kwon-Do manuals: "Black is the opposite of white, therefore, signifying the maturity and proficiency in Tae Kwon-Do. It also indicates the wearer’s imperviousness to darkness and fear."


Although this serves as a textbook definition, I believe that the modern day black belt can mean so much more than this based on an individuals own experience.

At Martial Art World, most students will enroll to lose weight, get fit or learn self defence skills. We like to focus on a black belt being the vehicle to achieve these goals. By setting the goal of black belt, we generally find that the students personal goals then have an increased level of focus, engagement and a clearer level of progression.

For some, a black belt can represent an achievement of hard work, demonstrating perseverance and a non-quitting attitude. For others it represents a high level of martial arts education or physical skill.

For me personally, my own black belt holds much more sentimental value. Let me expand…

After receiving my first black belt at 10 years of age, I continued to train in martial arts and set the goal of a higher Dan level. (For those who don’t have experience in this subject, once you achieve black belt, you can continue your journey by training towards higher level black belts. These qualifications are known as Dan grades or degree levels. For example, in Tae Kwon Do, you can earn up to 9 degrees, also known as 9th Dan). Quitting was never in my vocabulary so stopping martial arts never even crossed my mind!

By the age of 13, I had achieved my 2nd Dan. It was at this point in time that my father passed down his own 2nd Dan black belt to me. He had worn this for many years, has his name written down one side in Korean script and at the time, had 2 gold stripes to represent 2nd Dan. From that point onwards, I never replaced my belt. I continue to add stripes to the belt as I achieve higher Dan levels and to this day, exactly 20 years later, I still wear my father’s belt.

For me, my black belt represents FAMILY.

It reminds me of the good times I had and still have training with my father, mother and brothers. It’s a reminder that if I put my mind to something, I can achieve anything. I believe it’s also why our biggest target market at Martial Art World is families. We know that as a family who has gone through our martial arts journey together, there are so many benefits to be gained. You also get to spend quality family time together whilst developing skills for life. The memories I have of training with my family are some of my most treasured. I now want as many other families to experience their own positive journey into martial arts, just like I did.

In simple terms, a black belt is simply a bit of material that sits around ones waist. The true meaning of the belt lies in the journey of the student. The memories, the learning, the experience and the transformation both physically and mentally!

I truly believe that earning a black belt should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s a truly unique experience that will help you become the best version of yourself!


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