Home > Challenges, Judo, Life, Promotions > “A black belt is a white belt who never quit.”

“A black belt is a white belt who never quit.”

Last night, I had the privilege of attending the Shodan (first degree black belt) promotion for two of Drexel Judo’s members. This is only the second black belt promotion I’ve seen as an adult judoka, but both times I couldn’t help but tear up. While I do see a promotion as an acknowledgement of advancing your skill level, I also think it’s recognizing that judoka’s dedication to the practice. When I see someone get promoted, I usually don’t think, “Oh, he totally deserves it because he has a sick harai” or “He should get promoted because his ground work is flawless.” I usually stare at the person in awe and think, “Wow. He has worked so hard at this for so long.”

I know how easy is it to quit. I know because I quit as a kid as soon as I ran into some judo road blocks. First I got angry with myself; then I lost all my confidence. I walked away from the mat. This happens to a lot of people. I was short-sighted then and couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that judo means committing yourself to a life-long learning process. Of course there will be periods where I feel terrible about my practice and every training session feels like emotional abuse. But there are also periods where you can feel yourself picking up speed and realizing that you have moved forward. Those moments are incredible. Judo also makes you face your fears. I remember this past Spring yammering away to some classmates before a tournament about how nervous and terrible I felt thinking about the competition that weekend. One girl asked, “So why do you do it if it makes you this miserable?” I was shocked by her question, responding,  “Because I love it!” Yes, I want to throw up the night before a tournament. When it’s over, though, even if I lost all my matches, knowing that I made myself get out there despite feeling horribly nervous and trying to stop my hands from shaking makes me feel like about 10 inches taller.

So when I see someone earn a new belt, I realize that they were able to do what I couldn’t do my first time around with judo. They stuck with it, no matter how hard it got. Even if they had to take time off for injuries or life stuff, they still came back. That kind of dedication is so admirable to me. It makes me realizes that we are all capable of achieving and that we each will take a different path to get to where we want to be. It also makes excited to do my best when it’s time to face the hard stuff.

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Categories: Challenges, Judo, Life, Promotions
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