Ryan Cloninger Denver Tae Kwon Do Mr. Putnam November 8, 2009 What a Black Belt Means to Me When I was thirteen I started taking Tae Kwon Do. I wanted to learn how to fight and break boards. I have come a long way since my first Tae Kwon Do class. As a candidate for black belt rank, I now have a different perspective of Tae Kwon Do, and different motivation for attending each class. To me a black belt consist of displaying great character, becoming a leader, and reaching your goals, and understanding the history of Tae Kwon Do.
To become a true black belt, you have to look back and remember the men who started Tae Kwon Do, and understand their history. Tae Kwon Do means the way of the fist and foot. In Tae Kwon Do you are empty handed. When empty handed you must use your hands and feet. In the early times Korean men used their hands and feet as weapons. Koreans used Tae Kwon Do for self-defense when invaders came to savage their village. Men died fighting to protect their loved ones and their homes. What once was a military form of fighting soon became a way of life for the Koreans.
The history of Tae Kwon Do has taught me that becoming a black is not about what color material you receive. Tae Kwon Do black belts never quit. They work hard to achieve goals, even when the journey is difficult. I have learned to never retreat in life, and that victory is the goal. Becoming a black belt has always been a goal of mine. The respect and honor you gain from becoming a black belt is priceless. Knowing you worked hard for a black belt makes your accomplishment so much better. I have been taking Tae Kwon Do for over four years and am yet to have earned my black belt.
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The school I train under believes in working hard for the rank of black belt, and this can take a very long time. I believe the long road will make the destination that much more rewarding. Another goal I have is to attend college at Clemson University, after graduating high school. After college I hope to be a professional chef. My goals of going to college to become a chef have been with me ever since I can remember. Growing up around my grandparents who were always cooking got me interested in becoming a chef.
Tae Kwon Do has taught me to stay in pursuit of this goal. In order to be the best college student and the best chef, I know I need to be a leader and not a follower. During the Tae Kwon Do summer camps I had a chance to practice my leadership skills. My instructor, Mr. Cloninger, allowed me to teach the Tae Kwon Do classes to work on and critique my leadership skills. Instructing the students really helped me correct my own mistakes in technique and forms. As I have grown through the ranks, my instructor has allowed me to instruct the classes.
Instructing is another way of learning. If you cannot teach the material you truly do not understand it yourself. This is required to perfect your material, as I learned from personal experience. I believe my instructor, Mr. Cloninger, is an example of a great leader. He pushes me to my limit and beyond. He makes me a better person, better in the karate school, and in the community. Mr. Cloninger is dependable, hardworking, and possesses many great character qualities. Displaying good character is essential for being a great leader and a great black belt.
Positive characteristics, such as respect for others, self-control, obedience, and humbleness, are the building blocks of a well-trained black belt. Respect is always important when training. Respect is earned. It is not simply given to you. You must work hard and be respectful to your instructor. Self-control is an important characteristic to have, not only in martial arts, but also in life. Self-control is harnessing your actions and emotions. When in training all emotions must leave the room. Your mind should be set on your material and goals.
Self-control also applies in every day life, whether it is when you are driving down the road and some one cuts you off, or when your peers upset you at school. Obedience is another attribute a black belt must have. Whether it be listening to my parents or my instructor, I need to be able to listen and follow through when something is asked of me. Black belts are portrayed as people that can be trusted, doing what they are told and doing it the first time. Obedience comes easier when you have respect for others and self-control of your own wants and desires.
A true black belt should be humbled in his achievement of his rank. Black belts should have respect for the art and not use their rank to show off, bully, or be intimidating. Black belts should not to be portrayed as cocky, arrogant or boastful. This is not being a good leader or representative of martial arts. I continually try to implement respect, self-control, obedience, and other positive characteristics into my life. These characteristics help me learn in school, train in Tae Kwon Do, and be a good member of my family.
I am grateful and honored that I was given the chance to test for my black belt. I received the best training from Mr. Putnam and Mr. Cloninger. These great leaders have taught me to stay strong and to work hard for my goals. If I receive the rank of black belt, one of my many goals will have been accomplished. My journey to becoming a black belt has taught me to display great character, build my leadership skills, reach my goals, and understand the meaning behind Tae Kwon Do. I look forward to continuing my Tae Kwon Do journey for many years to come.
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