Your Personal Black Belt Plan

It is extremely important to have goals in your martial arts training, or as Elder Master Eric Smith puts it, you have to “ask for something” every time you train. 

For most people studying a martial art, getting a black belt is a major goal.  It is never too early to start thinking about your personal path to black belt.  Your teacher and your school will have a certain vision of what it means and what is required to acheive black belt status, but your contribution to the process of attaining a black belt  is the most important determining factor in investing that rank with meaning, purpose, and depth.

In Shaolin-Do, every level of brown belt is meant to last for 6 months of consistent training, and brown belt levels count backwards from 3rd (beginner brown) to 2nd (intermediate) to 1st (advanced), so that the timetable from 3rd brown to 1st black is approximately 1.5 years.  For more on the kung fu curriculum, see

When Grandmaster Sin first started teaching in this country, he taught much less material from brown to black than we have in the curriculum now.  3rd to 2nd brown consisted only of broadsword and sanje, but still took 6 months, so brown belts did a lot of sanje, broadsword, conditioning, and short kata.  There are many stories about the hard workouts Grandmaster Sin and his brother Master Hiang put the old-timers through, with thousands of kicks, punches, and conditioning exercises.  As Senior Master Bob Green puts it, “One of them (Grandmaster Sin) was trying to make us pass out, the other (Master Hiang) was trying to kill us!”

I’d like for you to do a little soul-searching and set some personal goals for yourself as you set down the path to testing for black belt.

Get a notebook that you will devote to your kung fu training.  Use it to record notes on the forms that you learn (including seminar forms).  You can also record workouts, your sparring experiences, goals, and achievements.  Your student manual only gives you notes on forms for your first year of training, so you need to be able to keep your own notes without depending on the manual.  (If you have not received a student manual, contact me to request one.)

Write your responses to the following in the notebook.  You may give a copy to Sifu Joseph if you wish, but it is not necessary.

What are the qualities, capabilities or attributes that make someone a martial arts master?  (Imagine things that you would like to be able to do or attributes that you would like to possess 20-30 years from now.)

What qualities, capabilities, or attributes would you possess 10 years from now, if you set out on this path today?

What qualities, capabilities, or attributes would you possess 1 year from now, if you set out on this path today?  Make these your one year goals, and be sure to write them down.

How do you plan on reaching your one year goals?  Break them down into 3 month increments, and keep track of your progress.  You can keep revising, if necessary, as you learn whether or not your goals were realistic, or too easily attained.

Now set a few concrete goals for yourself that you will attain before you test for black belt.  Some examples:

“I will be able to do 100 push-ups in a single set.”

“I will be able to do a full front and side split.”

“I will be able to do fast & powerful front, side, roundhouse and hook kicks over my head.”

“I will be at my optimal body weight of _____ lbs.”

“I will be able to all of my forms flawlessly, with low stances, power, snap, focus, and rhythm.”

This last one should automatically be one of your goals.  The other goals will be tailored to your individual priorities, abilities and desires.  Keep track of your weekly progress in your training book, and work consistently.

Feel free to contact me for advice in creating a plan to reach your goals.

(back to


~ by nolashaolin on July 25, 2007.

One Response to “Your Personal Black Belt Plan”

  1. […] years ago, “Your Personal Black Belt Plan.” An older version of it is posted on my blog here.  I’ve added a few more specific suggestions at the end to help you better define your goals and […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: