There is a certain mysticism about becoming a black belt and even achieving a brown belt is a serious accomplishment. What is it that is so special about this achievement?

Well, the answer is simple: it is not about their physical prowess although that is impressive. It is about the person they became in order to achieve that level of physical prowess. Becoming a higher grade requires character. Here are some key pointers:

Becoming a higher grade is not about talent is about heart and determination.

When we talk of the heart and determination that it will take it comes down to being able to handle 2 key challenges.

  1. You will need to push yourself. You will need to train when you don’t feel like training, you will need to step out of your comfort zone even if it scares you.

If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always got.

Your biggest fears are the gates to your greatest growth.

  1. You will need to handle setbacks, disappointments, frustration, and stagnation.

The strongest people are not those who win but rather the ones who don’t give up when they lose.

The key to handling the set backs is to know that they are not taking something from you they are giving something to you: the gift of growth.

Have goals. Short, medium and long term.

Higher grades don’t just turn up and train, they are working on goals. They have short-term goals of improving specific skills sets which they are working on both at home and in class. They have medium range goals of what they need to do to become their next grade, and they have long-term goals of both the person and the martial arts that they are striving to become.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

It’s not how sharp you are it’s more about attitude, respect and humbleness.

You should not be so humble that you put yourself down, rather have a sense that there is much more that you are yet to learn. You shouldn’t be boastful even if you have achieve accolades, your goal is that people should respect you for who you are more than any belts or medals.

Boasting and gloating confirms you need the appreciation of others.

True humility is remaining teachable regardless of how much you already know.

It’s about trust and open-mindedness.

It’s not blind faith, but more a willingness to try out things follow directions for your own benefit. Often people won’t do things because they won’t step out of their own comfort zone, they think they no better, they refuse to change their ways or won’t put their own ego aside, that is poor.

It is very easy to be different, and very difficult to be better.

It’s about changing and growing.

A higher grade can not just go through the motions over and over. They can’t even be waiting for their instructor to tell them what they need to work on next, they are already thinking about their karate and what they need to work on.

Progress is impossible without change.

High grades need to be adaptable.

Both in the moment and in the long haul. In the moment you need to think tactically when and adapt your strategy when it is not working. In the long haul, those who are not adaptable to change will be left behind.

You can’t direct the wind but you can adjust your sails.