In early 2007, when I joined the martial arts section of the Boulder Quest Center, after doing meditation classes for a few months beforehand, I was still newly a black belt. I was thrust into the white belt beginning class and saw it as beneath me. After all, hadn’t I just earned a black belt? Hadn’t I distinguished myself enough to be put on the fast track to another black belt? I had seen it happen in Tae Kwon Do and a friend of mine received his black belt after only two years of Tae Kwon Do. If they could do it, why not me? As I look back now, the very reasons I wanted to go ahead were the very reasons why I had to stay behind. Only by learning with an open mind and heart would I be able to go forward and achieve all I wanted to. Waiting and taking my time was one of the best decisions I have made in terms of martial arts. It has made me patient and calm. It has made me sure of who I am and given me a genuine desire to help people to learn. I have a wealth of knowledge, which doesn’t make me better than other people, but instead gives me a place to share what I know.
While both of my belts are similar, they are very different and instead of negating one another, they build upon each other. My Tae Kwon Do training placed a firm building block at the base of the martial arts pyramid. The highest honor I can give to my past training is to use the balance and finesse that I have achieved to teach those below me. The highest honor I can give to my future belts is to not let my past training hold me back from seeing the truth with eyes unclouded. As I finish this essay, there is only one thing left to say. I am ready.
To see Jeff earn his To-Shin Do shodan Black Belt, come to Winter Warrior 2013.