Congratulations to Zoe Kaplan and Elliot Gualano for earning their first degree Black Belts! Earning a Black Belt with us is unique. First of all, they do have to learn all of the moves, forms, techniques and what not. However, the objective of learning these moves is self defense, not winning trophies. Therefore, our Black Belt physical exam is based on one simple notion. Can this person actually defend him or her self in a real self defense scenario? Can the student improvise and not be forced to do a bunch of dogmatically memorized stuff? It takes more self discipline and self confidence to be creative than to just perform a bunch of memorized stuff.
But on top of knowing what to do, the student must also have a clear understanding of when to do these things. Obviously we don’t want to have a student who is looking for a fight all the time. Therefore we spend a great deal of time teaching a simple philosophy of use- use the smallest amount of force necessary to not get hurt, preferably none, with the objective of escape.
However, though there is the possibility of having to defend yourself against a physical attack, other attacks are much more likely- in fact I guarantee that they will take place. Therefore our self defense curriculum spends a great deal of time working on defense against negative peer pressure, bullies, good nutrition choices, personal fear and self doubt, anger management, effective ways to say no, managing the environment, and many other real life challenges that out kids face every day.
And finally, out students learn a great deal of becoming an effective person. A Black Belt Leader with us is the kind of person who is not negatively influenced by those around them, rather is a positive influence on those they come in contact with. Out students learn about honesty, integrity, a positive attitude, gratitude, discipline, respect, self confidence, and a whole lot more. These topics are taught in every class just like techniques are. Not only that, but out students are required to actually do things to apply these lessons to their lives for each belt. We call these tasks.
For Black Belt there is a community leadership task. This time around Zoe lead a team to clean up the overpass bridge next to an elementary school, while Elliot lead an effort to raise money for gifts for the less fortunate.
Now that they have both earned their first degree Black Belt (and both did an amazing job on every challenge I threw at them) it is time for them to get to work on their second- with a whole new set of challenges!
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