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Lupin1
KF Sempai
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Joined: 15 Dec 2009
Posts: 1603
Location: NH USA
Styles: Isshinryu

PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 2:15 pm    Post subject: 5 Ill-Advised Things Every Brown Belt Should Do Reply with quote

Disclaimer: as of the writing of this article, I am, in fact, a 1st kyu brown belt. Will that affect my viewpoints, make me biased and limit my perspective? Yup. Will I look back on this article five years from now and think how naive (and possibly wrong) I was? Probably. Will I let that stop me? No way. Because capturing the mindset and viewing ideas through the lens of someone at a particular point in a journey has value in and of itself. And so, as a completely unqualified non-expert, I present to you: "5 Ill-Advised Things Every Brown Belt Should Do."

Brown belt is a unique time in a martial artist's journey. It's usually seen as a time of intense, focused preparation. "The Test" is coming and each student is giving it their all to ensure they are ready. They're reviewing syllabi, drilling kata and attending extra training sessions. They're racking up class hours, teaching hours and practice hours. They're composing essays on "what black belt means to me" and putting together service projects - all to meet the requirements for that golden achievement, that ultimate goal, that trophy at the end of the race: the coveted black belt.

But with all this focus on the future, how many martial artists take the time to live in the moment and really savor the present state of being a brown belt? How many instructors encourage their students to take full advantage of this as a time of great growth and development, in and of itself, and not just as the final push to Shodan? This point in time should be celebrated, explored and lived in. Mistakes should be made, chances should be taken, and life lessons should be learned.

Here are just a few ideas:

1. Try a new dojo/style/art just for the fun of it.

It's an oft-presented piece of advice that a student shouldn't start looking into a supplementary martial art until he or she achieves at least Shodan in the first. I disagree to an extent. While it's true that the serious study of another similar art before Shodan could be difficult and potentially confusing, exploration and "dabbling" can lead to huge benefits.

Trying new things widens your focus and shows you what else is out there. You learn how others do things differently and gain new perspectives on well-known movements. You meet fellow martial artists to whom you never would have been introduced and have the opportunity to learn from them and see things presented in new ways. You learn to move your body differently and come to find that there is no "one right way." You also get to see the results of your training in a new environment - how will you apply or tweak your Goju-ryu training while sparring this Tae Kwon Do green belt, or how will it help you throw this Judo white belt to mat in a bout of randori? Conversely, how will attempting these new things help you strengthen your Goju? How can you set aside your training and reap of the benefits of embracing the beginner's mindset while still being able integrate pieces of each new experience to create a stronger, richer whole? And if you do get a bit confused, that in itself can throw you out of your comfort zone, help you learn your limitations and force you to think through things more systematically as you recover - all of which can be an opportunity for growth. DONE

2. Try some wacky training methods.

Blindfolded kumite? (Well, padded, I hope). Performing basics without letting your back come off of a wall? Running kata in a pool, on a trampoline, backwards, at an angle, feet only, hands only, insert strange adaptation here?

Take some time to experiment. The weirder the better. Maybe you do just one kata 20 times a day for a week and see what happens. Maybe you do nothing for a week just to see what happens when you go back (I've have some major revelations in the first few classes after month-long breaks). Maybe you do everything with your ankles attached by a rope or while holding a dumbbell. Some exercises may turn out to be useless. Some may regress you a bit (it's OK, you'll recover). Some may force you to think more deeply, concentrate in a way you never have or raise your understanding of a move, a form or your own body to a whole new level.

3. Get put in your place by a black belt.

Cockiness. Whether deserved or not depends on the individual, but regardless, it's a stereotypical trait of a brown belt. A brown belt knows enough to be dangerous. Things are clicking, movements are coming together and starting to feel right, and there's a general feeling of "I've got this." That can be an awesome thing and cause a huge leap in self-confidence, but in many cases it can also lead to an attitude of "I already know this and don't need to practice it or listen to any corrections."

This stage is completely natural and may even be an instrumental part of growth and self-knowledge. It shouldn't be disparaged and discouraged but should be allowed to happen in its time (see #5 below). Yet an even bigger leap of growth comes when the brown belt realizes just how much they don't know. And that's why going toe to toe with a black belt, and getting thoroughly put in your place, can do a world of good toward making the necessary shift from reckless arrogance to humble confidence.

4. Get put in your place by a white belt.

A beginner's mind is a valuable thing. A white belt can sometimes clearly see things that have become clouded by years of study and judgments. Those approaching what appears to be a precipice of that study can often use a reminder of how important it is to retain a beginner's mindset. Getting corrected or brought back down to Earth by a new beginner can do a world of good in teaching this value to a student on the verge of Shodan. It can serve as a lesson in how much the brown belt does NOT know and help empty a cup that has become overfilled.

5. Contract brown belt-itis.

My instructor has a special term for the experimentation he finds so common in brown belts: brown belt-itis. Students with brown belt-itis will add moves to kata that don't belong. They'll change their hand position in that basic block they've had down since yellow belt. They'll try out that cool jump spinning side kick they saw on TV and get kicked somewhere unpleasant as a result. They'll incorporate the boxing moves their friend showed them into a sparring tournament and get disqualified. And of course any black belt who attempts to explain why any of these are a bad idea has no idea what they're talking about.

In an essence, it's very similar to the bold experimentation of adolescence. And similarly, it can be a frustrating thing to encounter as an instructor. However, just as those sometimes ill-advised experiments are vital to the healthy growth and develop of the adolescent, a brown belt must be free to blaze their own crooked and rocky path to Shodan. And the dirtier they get along the way, the more they get lost and have to find their way back, the more they stumble and recover; the more their karate will become their own and the stronger black belt they will become. And, of course, the more fun they'll have.
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Patrick
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the submission, Devin. Enjoyed reading this.

Patrick
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sensei8
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
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Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very solid article through and through! A clear and definitive look at brown belt. Those who are approaching brown belt will get a lot of intent from your solid points, and, those who are already a brown belt can appreciate the intent as well!

Even though it's been a million years ago for me, you hit a homerun with each and every paragraph!! Even though I've been training over 50 years, I can vividly remember each and every rank; some more challenging than others!!

Well done!!



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bushido_man96
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Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a fantastic article, and I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you!
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Archimoto
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Joined: 12 Apr 2014
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Styles: JKD / Muay Thai / TKD

PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A wonderful article indeed. I like the notion that a brown belt is very much an imperfect work in progress that can have fun, humility, confidence, and can enjoy exploring new horizons. In fact I think it's a mentality that is perfectly suited for all ranks especially black!
As you said: in 5 years you might look back on this article and think it naive. Or before then you might be copy/pasting the same article as a black belt for black belts!
Thank you for it!

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LLLEARNER
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
A very solid article through and through! A clear and definitive look at brown belt. Those who are approaching brown belt will get a lot of intent from your solid points, and, those who are already a brown belt can appreciate the intent as well!

Even though it's been a million years ago for me, you hit a homerun with each and every paragraph!! Even though I've been training over 50 years, I can vividly remember each and every rank; some more challenging than others!!

Well done!!




You can't be that old. I figured you for 40 ish.
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sensei8
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2016 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LLLEARNER wrote:
sensei8 wrote:
A very solid article through and through! A clear and definitive look at brown belt. Those who are approaching brown belt will get a lot of intent from your solid points, and, those who are already a brown belt can appreciate the intent as well!

Even though it's been a million years ago for me, you hit a homerun with each and every paragraph!! Even though I've been training over 50 years, I can vividly remember each and every rank; some more challenging than others!!

Well done!!




You can't be that old. I figured you for 40 ish.

Nope...I just turned 59 this past October!!



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