A little after I got my black belt in Kajukenbo , I had the honor of spending some time with Great Grand Master Shizu Allan Abad, before he joined Sijo Emperado in heaven. He knew he would be leaving us soon and was talking about the future of martial arts and in particular Kajukenbo. One of the things he told me really stuck, he said:
“Once you get your black belt you start all over again”
-Shizu Allan Abad
I’m a black belt
In my journeys I have met several black belts from the U.S. to Japan. Many of these black belts would tell me “I’m a black belt in (insert style here) ” and I would say, “that’s awesome, where do you train?”. The answer that followed would both surprise and disappoint me. Many of them would say that they don’t train anymore, or that they are focusing on some other sport, rather than their martial arts. I would also hear the all famous “ I need to get into shape before I start training again”. This line upsets me the most, because martial arts training, is training. This is like saying I need to get in shape, before I start going to the gym to get into shape.
Always a black belt
Shizu Allan Abad’s quote came to have a new meaning for me. As a black belt some people think that they have earned a certificate like a license or a degree, but a black belt is none of these things.
If you don't use it, you lose it
I should clarify that you never can lose your black belt (although some people literally lose it because they forgot where they keep it). But you can lose the skills that earned your black belt by not training. That’s why I think it is sad to hear, that someone invested so much time into something just to waste it away.
A black belt is just to hold up your pants
It really is. That’s why it’s so important to “start all over again”. Go back to what you learned as a white belt and do it all over again and again, this is the true path of a martial artist. It doesn’t matter what style of martial arts you do, once you have started walking down the path you keep going. Otherwise your black belt is just holding up your pants.
A Philosophy for Life
The funny thing is that right before I finished my degree in Social Science my professor and mentor told me the same thing, she said:
“After you get your Masters you never stop learning”
- Karen Glover PhD Sociology
When she said this I laughed. She thought I was laughing at her and I had to explain that this philosophy was something I already knew as a martial artist. Shizu Allan Abad’s words continued to resonate with me even through out my academic career. You should never stop learning and building what you know. I can’t thank Shizu Allan Abad and my Sifu Sigung Ronnie Issaguire more for teaching me this life lesson.
Thank you both very much!
While you are sitting around someone else is training to defeat you.
Social Gelo with Angelo
Sifu Angelo Ferrer (M.S. Psychology/2nd degree Black Belt Instructor Kajukenbo)