things are popping,
and I should talk about
what a black belt really is.
to earn a black belt is incredible,
it is weird
that nobody knows
what a black belt is.
if you have read my article
In Search of the Master Founder,
then you have some idea.
But here’s the thing…
when I was studying kenpo
back in the late sixties,
the instructor said,
‘we’re actually a belt ahead of everybody.
Our orange belt (second belt)
is the equivalent of
the Purple belt (third belt)
of the guy down the street.’
bought into it.
There was no reason we should,
just our pride
and wanting to be better.
the guy down the street
was saying the same thing.
Isn’t that interesting?
It’s a statement of the human condition.
I was talking to a fellow
who was raised in a communist country,
he asked me why Americans wanted to bomb everybody.
I told him we thought they wanted to bomb us,
and we were both struck sort of dumb.
We believed what our governments told us,
and so we were herded like sheep.
sad to say,
it happens all the way down
to the community dojo.
Tell me that isn’t the human condition.
you can see that this is one of the factors
that totally screwed up what a black belt really is,
and even destroyed the definition,
if there ever was one.
The point is that a black belt has a certain amount of knowledge,
(depends on the system: aikido v karate, etc.)
And that knowledge must be workable.
Must be able to be used.
most systems have totally overloaded the amount of knowledge required.
With the glut of information available
as different systems of martial arts
came to public knowledge,
everybody tried to include everything
(we’ve got that…nobody is better than us…
and it doesn’t matter that we are altering and totally screwing up our system!)
back in the late sixties,
before the glut of information
destroyed the knowledge of what a black belt is
we had to learn ten kata to black belt (karate)
Not a lot of drills,
just a couple,
and then we had to be able use what we learned.
We got stronger,
our bodies shaped up,
but the real change was
in our minds.
There was a fellow I used to beat up,
his name was John.
He was six months ahead of me,
but I was just better.
It just happened to be.
So he got his black belt
and he started beating me up.
But I saw
that he had only gotten his black belt,
no special knowledge,
he hadn’t been taken in the back room
and told some secret,
he had just gotten promoted,
and it had gone to his head
in the best way
and he was kicking my fanny.
I looked at that,
saw what had happened,
and made up my mind
and went back to kicking his fanny.
it was a thing of the mind.
We weren’t that far apart,
there wasn’t a gap of knowledge,
we knew what each other knew.
karate back then wasn’t fancy,
it was a CCS
(Closed Combat System),
and a person worked their fanny off,
and the real difference
was in the heart and soul.
And it was expected that
in three or four years
with sufficient basics
a fellow would gain depth of soul,
an experience of combat
that was measurable,
and could be awarded by the black belt.
Then we lumped arts together
had weird thoughts like
my orange belt is better than your orange belt,
and the thing fell to…pardon me for lack of a better word…shit.
It still is that brown and gooey.
There is a wild variance between black belts of differing systems,
huge numbers of deviated forms
techniques from varying systems,
drills and drills and…
and the whole thing has mushed and fallen to…you know.
matrixing fixes that.
It isolates data,
demushes the bushwah,
makes it so that one can look at the scientific fact of ordered knowledge.
that plug aside,
what is a black belt?
but the answer will be worth it.
A black belt is a statement of self.
Black belt in Japan is dan.
Below black belt is kyu,
Kyu means boy,
dan means man.
not exactly man,
a statement of maturity.
Not maturity like puberty,
but maturity as in
a statement of self.
Who are you?
What are you doing on this planet?
In that body?
Who are you?
This is the question that is answered
when somebody makes a statement of maturity…
when one achieves a real black belt.
so many people get their black belt
and it means nothing.
It means they are strong and fast and can beat people up…
but that is not a statement of maturity.
it is often a statement of immaturity.
One of the odd things that happened
back at the Kang Duk Won
was that out of all the bikers that studied there,
all the Hells Angels and Gypsy Jokers and so on,
none of them ever got their black belt.
They simply kept beating people up.
A black belt was beyond that.
They knew who they were
and they had no interest in beating people up.
when I achieved my black belt
I had visions,
I went out of my body,
I gained perceptions,
and many other things.
It’s possible that I just raised the standard,
and that I was unique,
but I don’t think so.
The point is
that what I went through
is more of a measurement of black belt
than just being strong or fast or whatever.
That is the measurement of a human being
and it occurred back in the Kang Duk Won
in the late sixties.
Some of this was due to my instructor,
who was unique,
and black belts are stronger,
and more childish.
They don’t mature.
They don’t make a statement of self.
it goes without saying
that this is not true for all.
As I said,
there is a variance of black belt out there.
You’re going to find genius
rubbing elbows with moron.
I hope that what I have said here
has given you some clue,
inspired you to look
not at the vast amount of material,
but rather at the far vaster depths of the human soul.
That all said,
I don’t teach many people these days.
The reason is because
the people of today
have a difficult time
making a statement of self.
Back when I was at the Kang Duk Won,
there weren’t many martial arts schools,
so the few gathered
and there was higher quality.
with schools on every corner,
in every Y,
in the parks and garages,
the quality pool is too wide spread.
Add to that the drugs and general dissolution,
and you have not a lot of people
who can make a statement of self.
What happens when I find somebody to teach
is quite odd.
People get good,
then they start going up and down,
and then they quit.
They can’t take it; they can’t make a statement of self.
I think the fastest I ever blew a guy out was three lessons.
I had him drilling with somebody,
and he wasn’t getting it,
so I drilled with him.
I’m pretty pure,
I don’t have extraneous thoughts when I drill.
So he wasn’t getting any emotion,
any thoughts about the best hamburger
or what movie was coming out.
So he was getting absolute and pure
and nothing else.
And when there is nothing else,
the spirit appears.
he suddenly freezes up,
and can’t move.
After a few minutes
of just standing there
he looks at me,
and his eyes are all aglow
and he just shakes his head
and walks out.
I’m not going to tell you exactly what he said,
there is no significance there,
the significance is
he made a statement of self.
I offered the art,
he trusted me,
and blew out.
He wasn’t even in his body.
he wrote me emails
and saying all sorts of odd things
that would have got him committed,
but which were nothing more than
a statement of self.
he wouldn’t come back to class.
It wasn’t a matter of me filling him with too much material,
it was a matter of me showing him the space of himself,
the pure perception that he was.
A statement of self.
I don’t teach much.
I want to.
what it takes to get a real black belt,
is a gentle touch,
a commitment to not quit
the ability to make a statement of self.
Isn’t this all weird?
what the hell is this self thing
what’s to be frightened of?
there it is.
if you want to align your art
elevate your art
and find out what this
statement of self thing is
come on by the Monster.
No matter what your art is,
it depends on knowledge,
That is the only way to destroy the mysticism,
plumb the secrets
and make a statement of self.
Without the knowledge
you are just exercising,
and learning a few tricks.
You guys and gals have a phenomenal day.
Work out hard and often,
and make sense out of what I say.
whatever you do…
work out harder,
it is the only way.