Ask any martial artist and they will probably tell you that the most prestigious or coveted belt is the black belt. And it’s no surprise that this is the case. Most martial arts disciplines require anywhere between 3-10 years of continuous training to earn a black belt. That’s no small feat. As worthy as the black belt is of being held in such high regard, there’s another belt that is equally as important, if not more so…and it may not be what you think.
The most important belt in the martial arts is the white belt.
Wait, what? The lowest ranking belt is the most important? How can that even be true. Allow us to elaborate.
The martial arts is a practice rich in history and tradition. During the earliest days, a student of the martial arts put on a white belt for two important reasons. 1. To hold their pants up (yes, really). 2. To symbolize a new beginning.
Interestingly, while in some cultures the color white symbolizes purity, in Japanese tradition, it actually also symbolizes death. You see, when a student approached a martial arts master they wanted to train under, they were expected to leave their previous life behind to pursue something more. If the master accepted them as a student, they would tie a piece of white cloth around their waist to represent the death of the old self and the start of their new training and way of life.
Stories are told of how over time, the white cloth would change colors from the sweat, dirt, and even blood that would get on it during training. Eventually the white cloth would become so dirty, it would look closer to black than white. Because of this, the belt was held in very high regard as it was the visual representation of a students progress in their training and development. Great care was taken to ensure that belts were properly folded and stored when not in use. It was seen as highly disrespectful to place the belt on the ground since any discoloration on the belt had to be earned through training.
Many traditional and modern styles still incorporate belt rank colors in their disciplines. While every style has their own rank/color order and meaning, some of the most popular traditions base their color progression on the new life of a flower as follows:
White– new beginning, innocence, purity
Yellow– the seed
Green– the stalk
Purple– the flower
Blue– the sky
Regardless of what color belts your martial arts style uses, the most important aspect is that there is a clear and visible way to measure your progress. There often comes a time in every martial artist’s journey where they doubt themselves, even briefly.
Progress isn’t always linear.
Sometimes we don’t live up to our own expectations. Sometimes we regress into old habits that don’t serve our new goals. Fortunately, as martial artists, we know to expect these kinds of obstacles in life. We train to persevere through these obstacles and choose to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if and when our steps are less than stable.
During challenging moments like these, our belts offer a visual and physical reassurance that while we may not be perfect, we have made progress. And it all started when we made the decision to pursue a different way of life, with a different community of like-minded people…to say “yes” to transformation and growth, by receiving our white belt. So, we dust ourselves off, we tie on our current belt, and we begin again.
Ready to join our martial arts community? It’s easy to GET STARTED.
As a parent, one of the most important things you can do for your child is to establish a strong and positive relationship with them. But with the demands of a full-time job, managing the household, and the overwhelming commitment of after-school sports and activities, where do you even begin? Here are 5 simple ways to foster a stronger bond with your family that you can begin practicing today:
1. Spend quality time together
We get it. This can be easier said than done. But it doesn’t have to be. Set aside regular time each week to do an activity together that you all enjoy. This can be as simple as making dinner together, taking a family walk, or even a movie night at home. While many activities designed for kids don’t directly allow parents to participate, martial arts in an unexpected exception. In fact, training in the martial arts as a family has been proven to help families establish good fitness habits, increase levels of trust and self-esteem, and decrease stress and anxiety.
2. Listen and communicate
Make sure you REALLY listen to what your kids have to say. Yes, even when it’s a 20 minute recount of their latest Roblox adventure. Listening and engaging with curiosity when it comes to the little things, builds trust and encourages open and honest communication. It’s more likely that they will come to you with the bigger, more challenging matters if they trust that you will listen to the seemingly less significant matters. Additionally, training in the martial arts as a family encourages open communication. As you work through drills and training exercises together, you learn to communicate and even work through conflict and frustration in a healthy and beneficial way.
3. Show affection
This one is probably obvious, but it’s also an area most of us could probably do better in. Of course, affection can be demonstrated through physical affection, (ie. hugs, high-fives, fist bumps, etc.) or verbal affirmation, (ie. words of encouragement or praise). It’s truly remarkable what a difference a reassuring touch or a kind word can do to help your child feel loved and supported. Having other positive and supportive mentors in their lives, like their martial arts coaches, is also key in helping them develop confidence in who they are and encouraging them to practice their own version of positive self-talk.
4. Be patient and understanding
It’s ok to admit it…every parent has experienced being frustrated with their child at some point. That doesn’t mean we love them any less. But it’s how me chose to deal with our frustration that matters most. It’s important to practice calm communication and a whole lot of patience. It can be challenging to remember that our kids are still developing, mentally and physically, and sometimes that means they don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to their actions. The more you can demonstrate patience and understanding, without compromising your family’s morals or ethics, the stronger your bond will be. And oh, by the way, martial arts is a great outlet for stress relief and getting some of that frustration out in a healthy way (we like to call it “bag therapy”).
Rewards work as a way of positive reinforcement and really lets your kid know when they’ve done something well, and encourages good and consistent behavior. Experts agree that rewards work best when they are immediate (given right away) and intermittent (not every single time). Remember, this is NOT a bribe…it’s a reward. And yes, there’s a big difference. And guess what? Rewards don’t always have to be material things (though, it’s ok if they are sometimes). In fact, there are four main types or rewards you can consider (pro-tip…you’re doing amazing, so make sure you reward yourself, too):
When you hear about a neighborhood martial arts school it’s easy to think about a bunch of kids in white pajamas punching and kicking at the air with the occasional “kiai” exclaimed. In the Cedar Park/NW Austin area alone there are at least 25 martial arts schools. So what setsInvictus Martial Arts apart from the rest?
One word: community
Invictus is a place where everyone belongs.
Whether you’re a kid struggling with self-confidence, an adult needing an outlet for stress relief, or a teen needing an encouraging dose of self-discipline, Invictus provides a welcoming environment with knowledgeable and supportive coaches that are passionate about seeing you succeed.In a world where social media silently demands you to live a picture-perfect life, only presenting the best parts of what you experience day-to-day, the culture at Invictus takes a different approach.
At Invictus, it’s okay not to have it all together, and it’s ok to fail, because failing is how we learn and learning is how we grow.
To state it plainly, at Invictus, it’s ok to just be authentically you. In fact, it’s not only ok, it’s celebrated. And when you’re part of a community where you feel seen and accepted just as you are, something remarkable happens: transformation.
Invictus Martial Arts is co-owned by two Avery Ranch residents, Dave Hackbarth and Selynda Garza. “It’s been our honor and pleasure to be able to help so many of our neighbors become the best versions of themselves through training in the martial arts”, says Mrs. Garza.
This month, Invictus celebrates 3 years of transforming lives through the martial arts.
In those 3 years, about a third of the members that have joined Invictus hail from the Avery Ranch neighborhood. Here’s what a few of them have to say about being a part of the Invictus family:
Olivia E.: “I like Invictus because it’s a fun way to learn kickboxing. Also it is a great community of people in the neighborhood.”
Nikhil S.: “I like going to Invictus class because I get to learn mixed martial arts which is fun and a good form of exercise.”
Arjun B.: “My parents say I am more confident than ever. Invictus has played a large role in that. I love my classes, coaches, and the energy in the room.”
Ethan S.: “I enjoy practicing martial arts and making new friends. And dad jokes.”
Livy S.: “It’s great to be able to attend class, exercise, learn, and build friendship with my peers.”
Maggie H.: “Kindness, discipline and strength are the words that, for me, best describe Invictus. I enjoy every single class I go to.”
Ganesh M.: “By joining Invictus, I’m proud to see my daughter grow from a timid kiddo to a more self-confident individual who can protect herself. While I originally tagged along to give her company, these days I look forward to every class myself for another day of fun filled learning experience.”
Jonah H.: “I enjoy being able to help others and be able to get away from the days stresses. Invictus has helped me with strength and courage in ways I am ever grateful for.”
Sarah M.: “I get compliments when I do something good; that boosts my self-confidence to give my best. The instructors are really kind and not very strict. I get to learn how to fight and I love it.”
Dhiya M.: “I like being active and moving my body. It’s totally fun.”
Jude G.: “I like Invictus because it is a place to train and work out with friends and family. Being at Invictus has helped with getting to know the community better and has helped with my strength. And I can’t wait to see where this leads me in the future.”
Ready to join our martial arts community? It’s easy to GET STARTED.