Friday, September 14, 2007

Big Time

Committing to becoming a Black Belt at my dojang requires signing a contract, a looonnnng contract. The Black Belt Club program is a commitment to 4 years. To be honest, we (my family and I) went through a lot of apprehension over the whole thing. We spent time over a couple of weeks trying to explain to the kids (10 and 7 at the time) how long 4 years really was. However, I think we overdid it a bit much and freaked out my youngest. She said she wanted to be a Black Belt but not do it for 4 years. She had been doing dance for 4 years but from her perspective, it was ALL she could remember doing. She had this idea in her head that she would be signing up for all of her life.

My oldest had a better idea of how long it was going to be and wasn't quite so hesitant but still had to mull it over quite a bit. I also really spent time talking with her about how toward the end, it was going to get more difficult.

Becoming a Black Belt is not an easy thing, nor do I think it should be. I've heard a statistic, that is completely unverified at this moment, that there are more people who get their PhD's every year than there are people who get Black Belts. Whether or not this is across all martial arts disciplines or just for TKD, I'm not sure. I do believe it though. I suspect my dojang is one of the largest around in the US and I think (based on the number of people I see on the Black Belt Candidate lists) they produce on the order of 20-40 Black Belts a year. Not like they present themselves as a "Black Belt factory" or anything. Master Lee takes his program very seriously and he does expect his students to give their best. Not just in the actual art of TKD but in all the aspects of their lives.

The local paper ran an article that wasn't flattering to Master Lee. The article does appear to only view the side of a disgruntled customer. One item it failed to include though is that Master Lee presents the program up front as a developmental program, not just a recreational program. This was very much explained to me and my kids before we signed on the dotted line. So yes, we did sign up for the long commitment and yes, my kids did sign a "commitment form" themselves to become a Black Belt. They have it hanging in their room in visible site as a motivational tool. Additionally, I'm looking into getting a belt rack where they can keep track of their progress.

One interesting side effect is that my oldest daughter has started expressing future events in terms of her Black Belt status. Like when she will be able to drive a car: "Oh....I'll be a Black Belt by then." Or when she enters high school...."I'll be almost a Black Belt".

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