In my opinion we in the west have wrecked traditional martial arts. Our damning focus on success and goal setting has perverted the martial arts, particularly Karate, into something that is way out of line with their benefits and beauty. There’s always exceptions to the rule but for the most part it’s turned into a complete shit show out there. We’ve created the McDojo where you can get your black belt in under 3 years and drop your kids off after school for cheap daycare. Now, don’t get me wrong, after school programs can be a great idea and benefit but let’s call it for what it is. It’s a tried and true income generation scheme for these martial arts schools who really have no intention or idea how to teach good martial arts. They’ve turned themselves into self help gurus who blow sunshine up your ass left right and centre about goal setting, success, confidence and every other sunshine and roses gimmick they can muster. This stuff can be great especially with kids but the extent and intent of these programs has nothing to do with improving people’s lives…at least not in the long term. Without the proper balance of understanding the importance of just setting up a sustained, flexible and principle based growth system you’re just going to impale yourself on your own achievements if you don’t understand that things like goal setting, rank achievement and competition are just a means to an end and nothing more than hurdles to overcome and forget about. The key is to understanding what it is that you are trying to achieve and that should be to keep making a better you. Notice I said KEEP making. Too many are focused on just the goals and usually that goal is to achieve a black belt. A black belt is just a marker in time and it loses it’s value with each passing day if you stop training. It’s value however increases with each passing day you continue to train after achieving it. It’s all about growth and/or slowed degradation. I can’t do anything about my aging body but I sure can slow the effects and bring more fulfillment to my life by continuing to train well into my years. The three belts above are important to me. The yellow belt was the first belt I earned and I remember being so excited about it. It marks the first accomplishment on my journey. The black belt is first black belt I received and will always have a place in my heart. It was a big day and I was proud of my achievements but it too is just a marker. I probably won’t wear that belt again for another 12 years (unless I walk onto the floor as a Karate guy) because the white belt beside it is my current rank in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and I’m totally okay with that. In fact I love it. Why? because I understand that it’s about what I learn and not entirely about what I achieve. With a brand new art I get to learn a LOT of new things. That’s super cool. I’m sure I could go to a crappy Jiu-Jitsu school and get my black belt much sooner but what’s the point of that other than pretending to be something I’m not. How does that bring value to my life? Set a direction. Goals are secondary to that. Don’t let awards, titles and rank undermine the objective.