Black Belt Experiences


First-degree test:

The story of this test is one of sticking to your goals. I had been a brown belt for 5 years, working at the shipyards and training hard. My test would consist of demonstrating all of my basics, my techniques and forms (Kata). Hundreds of things had to be remembered and performed correctly upon request. Stances, hand positions, form, movement and many other small actions would be measured against the standards of all that came before me. There is little room for error, and too many mistakes would cancel the test.

Exactly one week before the first scheduled test date, I was involved in an automobile accident, nearly dying. The doctors told me that if it weren't for the tremendous shape I was in from martial arts training and weight lifting that I probably would not have survived.

After nearly a year and once again, weeks before the test I had another accident, this one nearly as bad as the first. After another year, I finally received my first-degree black belt in May of 1981, exactly 8 years to the day that I had started lessons.

Second-degree test:

That day in 1983 I will never forget. To pass this test, I had to do everything that I did for my first degree test again (only better, faster and stronger) as well as fighting ten other black belts in 2 minute rounds with a minute rest between rounds.

This required an extraordinary amount of stamina and resolve and for the 3 months prior to this test, all I did was train every day, all day.

Each of the other black belts would not be tired, and since they had gone through this test, they would make me measure up to the standard that was set.

This was a "rite of passage", joining the small ranks of those who went before me.

Beyond the techniques, Kata and basics, I was told that I would have to reach inside myself to finish, and would discover, if successful, that I could go far beyond what I then thought of as possible.


After the first fight with Tom Cook, my ex-professional boxer friend, and the second with my instructor, Chicken, I was already tired and hurt (finding out later that my nose was broken) and realized that I had 8 more fights to go.

I also realized that "giving up" would have much more serious consequences than in a real-life situation.

I paid a dear price that day to earn my second degree, but what I received in return was a confidence in my abilities and the knowledge that I could giver more than 100% and do anything if I tried.

"When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."
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