Black Belt Roles and Responsibilities

Becoming a black belt is not just about knowing your kata and having a good standard of kihon and kumite. It goes much deeper than just the physical. Those of us that are privileged to wear the belt should understand the roles and responsibilities that come with it.

When a student puts on their black belt they automatically become a role model. Other students, especially children, look upon black belt students/instructors with a sense of awe. It is all they want to become…it is what many, if not most people start training in karate for in the first place. Earning your black belt and reaching the required standard is a fantastic achievement, similar to earning a university degree. You receive your black belt and a certificate to go with it. That’s the tangible evidence that you have made the grade.

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What it Means to be a Black Belt

Achieving a black belt means different things to different people. It’s something that’s aspired to when we first start training, but what happens when we get there? For the most part many of us are happy to train each week and improve our basics, keeping our sights on the short term goal of our next grade, with the prospect of a black belt being so far away it is barely worth mentioning or even that its achievable.

However time and commitment have a strange way of creeping our goals towards us and before you know it ‘POW’ your Instructor hits you with the news that you will be coming up for assessment. The panic starts to slowly build and the realisation that you have more work to do to refine your kata, sharpen technique, more hips, more everything and the big one ‘quick, I’d better get fit’.

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A re-breakable epiphany

My instructor recently spent six weeks visiting family and friends in his homeland, so it was my responsibilty to instruct the childrens class while he was away.

Teaching kids can be quite testing, especially keeping everyone interested and challenged at the same time! On top of that you are dealing with a variety of ages and experience. One thing I had noticed over the last few years and especially the last few weeks is that it is difficult to inspire the correct attitude when punching and kicking in kihon or kata regardless of the amount of explanation and emphasis on correct technique - punching and kicking air just is not reality. At this point you might say that is why we practise partner work which is fine for aiming and control, however, unless you drill 100% full-contact it is still not 'real'. Many old-timers will be thinking to themselves at this point that is the reason why we have makiwara (Makiwara - How to Build and Use) - and indeed they would be correct for those who practise diligently and probably daily, but is also not the reality for most kids/adults training in this modern world where they might come twice a week for an hour or so.

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Week 3 with Pakour training

So week three has finally come and gone and a pattern in my training has emerged. I seem to have a fear of commitment (way too many jokes come to mind....ok ok just one “that’s what she said”). You see in parkour a lot of the movements are designed to continue your momentum. So that as you approach the obstacle the vault movement is nothing more than the next step from your last. The timing, distancing from each step doesn’t change this means slower you go the harder it is to achieve correct technique.

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The four ways Parkour has changed me for the better


After a crazy weekend at the movement Jam in Auckland, I am painstakingly putting together the very first ever episode of my hitch hiking documentary. Three days of running, leaping, vaulting and flipping around Auckland (ok ok I was behind the camera mostly) with guys from all over the country has been a great way to get to know not just the style but the people who practise it. Anyone can get a wikipidia definition of a style but only by meeting the people can you truly get a sense of what it is about (because the people who practise make the style).


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