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Black Belts Have It All Figured Out, Right?

Saturday, 5 August 2017

As a Martial Arts Instructor, I sense that there are some people who hold a social and cultural perception that Black Belt martial artists are masters of body and mind.  Sometimes I feel we are placed on a pedestal because of the colour of belt around our waist, and that we are considered all knowing, and have somehow figured it all out.  Sometimes the expectation from others that we should have all the answers leaves us feeling lacking or inadequate.

The truth is that as a martial artist I am constantly seeking out new information or refining what I already teach.  The truth is, that there is no “one way” or mystical enlightenment to be found on tying your Black Belt around your waist.  The struggle and learning never stops and the process of learning to be a better person continues as before.

I am constantly striving to improve myself as a person; a husband; a father and as an instructor.  I doubt myself all the time.  I question whether I’m making the correct decisions and I make plenty of mistakes – just ask my wife!

This article is written from my perspective, as a guy, looking and guy things.  It is written from the perspective of what has helped me and so doesn’t address the female perspective.  Females certainly don’t have it easier than males, as they are undoubtedly one of the most discriminated against groups in society.  However, they are talkers, connectors, and much more likely to reach out to friends and family for help when required.

Modern life, social media, intense product marketing provides us all with unrealistic expectations in terms of body image and happiness.  Did you know that males are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than females?  Also, the highest suicide rate per 100,000 for all persons is males aged 45-49 years?  I am bang in the middle of that age range.  It’s frightening.

Guys struggle to talk for the most part.  I love my Dad but we just don’t talk about that sort of stuff.  You can talk to friends about certain things but there’s always the likelihood your personal thoughts will be made light of and you’ll be told to shut up or toughen up.  If you are fortunate enough to have a good woman (or guy) in your life then this is often your best source of understanding and support but sometimes there is just stuff you don’t want to burden them with.

So where to turn?  It was reading The Good Dad Project article "The Top 10 Most Inspring Manly Mentors" that got me writing this blog.  I have found support and learning from a few of the people on this list in some way or another.  I read quite a lot, and listen to podcasts and audio books often,  normally whilst I’m driving or exercising.

I wanted to give a special fist bump to my mentor/ friend Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman who is noted in the list of guys “doing amazing things in the world, living a life of passion, purpose, and teaching others to do the same along the way”.  Charlie is an ex-UFC fighter and I’ve been listening to his podcast “Spaniard 101: Learn to be Bold” for some time now and taken a great deal from doing so.  Charlie’s AMX podcast episodes are a great place to start as they are only 8 minutes long and give you a daily positive “kick up the butt” to go do great things.

I want to say in closing that if any of the club members, parents or students need to speak to someone then please don’t be afraid to reach out to myself or anyone on the instructor team.  We may not have all the answers but we are there to be a friend and an ear to those who need someone to talk to.

References and helpful numbers –

Samaritans - www.samaritans.org / Dial 116 123

Breathing Space – www.breathingspace.scot / 0800 83 85 87

Reference - Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2016