Become the Belt, an article by Master Bill Hulsey

On February 9, 2012 by Master Bill

I will never forget the day I got my black belt from Frank Woolsey. It wasn’t a normal day at all. After all, this was the day I was to take my test to see just how much I had actually learned. I was pretty nervous. Sometimes, when Frank came up and asked me to show him even just one lesson, my mind would go completely blank. Now I was going to have to show him everything I had learned up to now. I got through the test just fine, even though it had taken three days and one injury. I was pretty proud of myself. When Frank shook my hand and congratulated me on passing the test, I felt great. He handed me my black belt and walked away.
It hadn’t hit me yet that I was actually a fully fledged black belt in a true combat art, but I did know I was extremely proud of my accomplishment. I was busy shaking hands with all my fellow students and then one of them said, “Hey, aren’t you going to put your new belt on?” “Damn right I am” I said as I strolled into the locker room to put the old belt away.
I strapped on that stiff new belt, and to me it was like wearing the Congressional Medal of Honor. As I headed toward the door I thought to myself, “now that I’ve got this thing on, I’ve got to look like a black belt.” So I stuck my chest out as far as I could get it, positioned my hips a little forward and walked onto that floor a different person, with a different attitude.
During my workout I realize just how much better I had become in just a matter of a few minutes. I had indeed become the belt.
I will never forget promoting one of my students to black belt many years ago. He took his test and passed. I congratulated him and gave him a black belt and walked away, just like my teacher had done. A few minutes later, I was on the floor giving out lessons and I noticed he was wearing his black belt on his shoulder and was not working out. In fact he was leaving. I thought this was kind of funny but didn’t give it much thought until later.
He said, “see you all later” and walked out the door. How strange it is that I never saw him again. He was awarded his black belt and quit the school in the very same night. I guess he had realized his goal of getting a black belt. Unfortunately, he never became the belt. He didn’t strap it on and push his chest out and he never knew what it was like to wear the black belt. He never felt what it was like to knock someone down wearing that coveted black belt with the just gained confidence. He never became the belt.
I can remember another guy who was just an all right brown belt but had stopped progressing for quite some time. It took me a while to figure it out. But, I finally did. He had reached his full potential as a brown belt. He wasn’t going to get any better. I approached him and told him I wanted to test him for his black belt. He reluctantly agreed and one week later I promoted him to black belt.
He put it on right there and I assigned him a workout partner. You wouldn’t believe what I saw. His work out had improved a hundred percent. I could hardly believe my eyes. He had power. He had speed and accuracy. He looked great. He had become the belt. This black belt was his license to become good. The transformation was immediate and permanent.

When you get promoted, be proud of it. Wear it with the confidence it deserves. Become the belt.

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