The Mile Stone of Black Belt

Achieving a Black Belt is a significant event in one’s life. It carries with it the power of transformation. It typically represents a high standard of skill development, discipline, perseverance and commitment. It is a statement of your character. When it comes time for one of my students to test for their Black Belt I want them to prepare for the proverbial Fire Walk. I’m not looking to put them in danger but I am looking to challenge them to something larger than life. I have seen many Black Belt promotions, with some stylized in a party atmosphere. There is a sense of excitement but it’s not soaked in adrenaline. They seem to miss an air of nervousness and anxiety of the trial and mission that lies ahead in a Black Belt test. I want the test to be unlike a typical day of training in class, I want it filled with the pressure of accomplishment or failure. I want it to feel like the culmination of all your hard work; the hours, days, weeks, months and years you have spent training is about to be put to test in this single moment. I want my students to experience a “right of passage”. I want them to earn the rank of Black Belt and become a member of the elite few that have passed the test. The journey to get there should have made them battle hard and battle scarred. The Black Belt test should not be presented as a “time served” moment and then handed a black belt, a certificate and a pat on the back. I want my students when testing for their Black Belt to” hit the wall”. I want to see what they do when they feel like they can’t go on. The student must do more than just fight off his opponents he must fight off the negative voice telling him to quit or give up. I want my student to go to the edge of his limits and expand. Be greater than what he thinks he is capable of, this is when the transformation takes place. The student realizes that his greatest strength is not from his physical power or flawless technique, but from somewhere deep down inside. Some call it Heart, others call it mental toughness and some call it Chi or Ki. Whatever the label it’s an inner strength that is a superior to your physical strength. The Black Belt test is not just a test of your fighting skills. It is much more than knowing how to defend and attack. The preparation leading up to your test should be a challenge in its own right. A challenge to your commitment, focus and ability to achieve one of the most difficult goals you could set for yourself. Jimmy Woo said “The art of Kung Fu lies not in victory or defeat but in the building of human character.” I believe he is telling all of us to take a deep look at our selves. Do you have a character that is worthy of a Black Belt? Do you have a warrior code you live by that will protect your honor? On the day of the Black Belt test I want the testing student to be in the best shape of his life. He needs to prepare not just his strength and endurance but his mind and spirit as well, for there is no other way to get through the test.

Ron Scanlon

About kfr

I started training in KFSS in 1975 under Master Bill Lasiter and received my Master Degree in 1987. I have been teaching Kung Fu San Soo for over 30 years. I have traveled throughout the US and Europe with Master Ben Smith and Master Dave Weeks giving seminars and demonstrations in KFSS. I have recently joined forces with Dave Weeks to open a new school in Rancho Cucamonga. All are welcome to come and check out our new location. Hope to see you there!!

4 thoughts on “The Mile Stone of Black Belt

  1. Earning your BLACK BELT is a great achievement and alot of hard work…i earned my BLACK BELT with BOB ESTRADA & BOB COTA at the COVINA CA studio many moons ago.. then later trained with CARLOS CHAVES at the same studio. Many good times and strong memories.

    MARTIN K CASTANEDA
    4th degree BLACK

  2. When I got my Black Belt, 30 years ago, I was in the best shape of my life, focused and full of intensity. Then my life took a drastic turn. I moved away and started a new life. It was for the best and it is a great life but there was always a part of me that was filled with regret for not continuing my learning of Kung Fu San Soo. It took 29 years, a good friend who is a Black Belt in Kung Fu San Soo and a loving and supportive wife to get me back in. I am now a student in Dave and Ron’s school and happy to be back. I am no longer in the best shape of my life, my reactions are slower, it feels harder to get up off that mat, my techniques need a lot of work and every joint and muscle needs a good stretching, but every time I get thrown on to the mat and get up, I feel like I am back home. Reactions, techniques and fitness will return with hard work, but I am thankful for this 2nd chance, one I will not waste.

  3. Ron Scanlon! Blast from the past! Michael Haas here! Look forward to seeing you again and catching up! I’ve thought of you often and the incredible life changing event of receiving my black belt. The season of my time studying San Soo has clearly been one of the most life impacting times of my life. Live in Oceanside now, took the opportunity to visit George Kosty and his school right around the corner from me. I look forward to getting back on the bike and talking with you.

  4. Getting ones Black Belt means one has demonstrated a significant degree of the practice and discipline which are require to actualize such a goal. Once one has become a Black Belt in San Soo the true learning begins. I agree Black Belt is not the goal but rather the begining of insight into the self. Once on has over come the fear of defeat and embraces the struggle within only then has one become a true warrior. Battles are won and lost often with the state of mind of the combatants. When we understand the futility of fighting the tendency is to avoid violent confrontation whenever possible. However, when no other course of action presents it’s self San Soo training and discipline requires sudden and over whelmimg violence in the extreme. Hence, command of the self is the greatest tool of the well trained and disciplined San Soo Black Belt. In the more than thirty (30) years I have practiced the Art as I have matured I have come to understand violence is the last resort. Of the many things I have achieved in my life, joining the ranks as a San Soo Black Belt is the of whjich I am most proud. I worked hard and over came many internal challenges on my path. To all those who have traveled the same or similar path you have my deepest respect.

    Dr. Michael L. Buffington

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