What should be a part of every white belt's training?

What should be a part of every white belt’s training?

Growing up, I moved every time my parents got stationed on a new Navy base. My adult life was even more transitive. That meant not staying at one dojo long enough to achieve any rank of consequence. As a result I’ve worn a lot of white belts over the course of my martial arts career. I think a Zen master would have something wise and positive to say about something like that, but I know, to many people, that the white belt status can feel a little low.

However, no matter how high we climb on the martial arts ladder, aren’t we all still white belts? Think of this: our belt ranks mean virtually nothing the moment we set foot outside of our gyms! A Jiu-jitsu master is a nobody as soon as he steps out of his own academy, and is nothing more than a white belt in the dojo of any other martial art.

That’s why I like to take the white belt rank very seriously. I’m even considering getting one embroidered! I think this is the rank where you learn the skills you will use every time you fight. Almost every good martial artists out there still goes back to some of those first techniques and concepts they learned years ago as a newbie. I certainly do.

In my humble opinion, and I surely hope this becomes a discussion in the comment section below, the white belt’s first priority is to survive. It is the first and foremost priority of any fighter in any situation, to survive long enough to complete your objectives. That of course means learning the instinctual fight patterns of most people (the US Army calls this the “Universal Fight Plan”), and learning how to beat it. It also means finding the safe places in a fight, which may mean safe distances, safe positions, blocks, postures, and stances. It also means learning to use some basic techniques that can achieve a variety of results (e.g. punching, kicking, submissions, falls). Most importantly, I feel this is the period where a normal, everyday person becomes, by nature, a fighter, which is a definition that could and probably will take up a whole post on its own.

I think the modern white belt makes up a very important part of the population of our martial arts training centers. They have, perhaps, the most useful curriculum material and the most down-to-earth perspectives. They often are able to spot problems in fight strategies and detect holes in our training (any Jiu-jitsu practitioner who’s ever rolled with a strong white belt can attest to that!). Perhaps we should make a habit of dusting off those old white belt curriculums every once in a while and see if we’ve forgotten any of those basic lessons.

What do you think should be a part of every white belt’s curriculum?

  1. figtree23 says:

    I agree that we are all white belts. Even when we reach the dizzy heights of say 6th Dan, if you maintain the perspective that you still have much to learn, then you cannot go wrong. Even if there is no more knowledge to gather, you are a different person to the “you” from yesterday and there is still a “new” student to teach. And as you probably already know, coloured belts are a recent addition to martial arts anyway.

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