The black belt novice
The black belt novice may seem to be a contradiction when you first here it, but the more you think about it and the more you know the more the idea of a black belt novice is worth exploring. When I had a fight at school that was not my fault I decided that I needed a way to protect myself, my dad had always been interested in martial arts and when I was 13 he took me to the cinema to watch a Bruce Lee film, I was so excited and for the whole day before going that was all that was on my mind, the evening came and we went to the cinema they said sorry you are not old enough to watch the film, I needed to be 18 years old, to say I was unhappy was a massive understatement, life goes on.
This massive set back didn’t stop me from wanting to learn about martial arts so I asked my dad if he knew any good instructors and he said that he had trained in a style called Wado Ryu for a short while and one of the students that were there when he started was called Nick and he is now a black belt and he has quite a few students, my dad said it might be worth going to see him, so I did, I was now 15 and the two that had passed from my misery at not being able to watch Bruce Lee were still in my mind but they were a bit more blurred now.
Wado Ryu Karate
I trained with Nick and the other students and I loved the training and Nick was a very nice and honest instructor, he was dedicated to his trade and he knew what was expected of him,he was respected by the other senior and junior students, he was very fast and very accurate in his execution of the techniques of Wado Ryu, I looked up to Nick as an example of what I believed a martial artist should be, not big headed not a bully he and still is a humble man. I think that I learned some valuable lessons from his teachings.
The problem that I had was not with Nick or with what Wado ryu was, my problem was me and my interpretation of how to apply what I had been taught, I and some of my friends all went out for the evening to the local pubs, I was tea total and just did some people watching and I also loved to dance so to me that was a successful evening out, most of the time when I had gone out like this there may have been some trouble but I had always managed to stay out of it and even just observe how people acted and reacted to each other when they were in high spirits, and having fun, the thing that I noticed was how the best of mates can quickly become the worst of enemies in a very short space of time when under the influence of drink or drugs, I have personally witnessed this is close proximity.
As I said before I enjoyed the teachings of my Karate master, Nick but I wander if he has ever been out in the real world to see what really goes on.
Any way as I said before most of the time I was able to avoid getting involved with the violence that goes on when you are on a night out, but for some reason this night was about to change me through bitter experience, I was the focus of a violent thug, he had me in line for a beating, why? No idea, but the fact is he wanted to hurt me and I think that when some people go out on the town the night is a bad one if they don’t get into a fight, so now it’s my turn, he tried to punch me and I tried to kick him and for some reason in the blink of an eye I was off my feet and on the ground rolling around with him, not one move that I had been taught to me by Nick came close to working, that was a big wake up call, my instincts kicked in and I had to use e few dirty tricks that I had picked up from my rugby playing days, I had played rugby from the age of 11 until my mid forties so going to the ground and knowing how to fall helped my, I have no idea what would have happened other wise.
The point that I am making is that when you start out on your martial arts journey you believe that if you can get to black belt all your combat worries will be over and that you can meet all non martial artists and defeat them, this is not always true, some black belts may be able to fight and some may think that what they learn in the Dojo is enough to give them an advantage, the advantage that I think it does give is that you will be fitter than the average drunken brawler who has a big beer belly, but not all brawlers are built that way.I loved the kata that I was taught and loved watching the way that the other black belts put the attacks and defense together, but I wandered then (after my first real unscripted attack since the start of my martial arts journey) if they would be composed, un afraid and able to do gedan barai or a clean jun tsuki when under immense pressure.
I read somewhere that you have to start at the beginning with the building blocks of a style and then move on to the advanced stuff later on, my issue is that the building blocks should be realistic from day one and that the training should reflect what is useful and not just what the master before says will work if you train with them for decades,by then it’s too late you could either be an old person or an injured or dead person< just because you keep repeating the wrong thing doesn’t mean that one day it will be the right thing, the wrong thing is the wrong thing and the right thing is the right thing. I know of many black belts that were fulled by a master into doing lots and lots of different styles of martial arts and he would always make them believe that if they trained hard (and paid him for the privilege) that they would be the best ever martial artists, he told them that they could only train with him and that his way was the best and only way to achieve enlightenment and the true Bushido spirit that had been passed to him by Master ???????
It is easy to fool a novice with high kicks and fancy sounding names and complicated moves that appear to have some kind of supernatural other meaning but the high grades too are just as susceptible to this if they are told don’t go any where else and don’t listen to other martial artists, because they don’t know what I know, in time you will be taught the inner secrets of this style, but first you must pay me and train with just me for years and years I know best full stop.
Nick was never like this he was open to discussion, but still followed his own path, he is happy with what he does so that’s good for him.He is an 8th Dan now and he is still doing the same things that he did when he was a first Dan, so all the years of training have just made him better at doing what the style dictates.If you are learning a martial art because you want a way to socialize or you want a nice way to keep fit that is fine, but if you really want to be a good fighter you must fight, no about real brawlers and realize what you do in the gym or Dojo must have some kind of resistance for it to even come close to being a life saver.
It can be hard when you have trained with a certain master for a few years because you can get to be very loyal to them especially if they are nice to you, or they say the right things,things you want to here like you are making good progress and you could be here one day teaching, like me, with students of your own, this is true but you will then just be passing on the same un tested un tried stuff that you had learned, this could go on for years and the style would be very legitimate but it would not evolve to where it should, this I think is why there are so many different styles because after a while the students feels that there is something wrong between the theory and the practice of their art.