The Value of a Black Belt

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What is the value of a Black Belt?  Between $8 and $70 if you order from Century Martial Arts.

No… This isn’t going to be a Mr. Miyagi “belt color doesn’t matter” essay. The world has too many of those and too many people who truly believe it with all of their heart.  There are also those who think belts in general are just an artifact from a bygone age, unsuited for the world of modern combat.

So, what IS the value of a Black Belt?

It comes down to you.  I have two Black Belts, both hard won. I’ll tell you a secret, though.  They don’t have the same value.  Don’t get me wrong, both are very valuable to me. I wouldn’t trade either of them for anything, but they have different values.

Every Black Belt requires physical work.  You have to come to class to earn your belt.  That means they cost you time.  How much time is up to you.  Many Black Belts don’t cost more than whatever class time was invested in them.  My Black Belts cost more than class time.  They both cost me time I could have been watching TV, playing video games, or whatever.  That increased the “Time Value” of my belts.

Most Black Belts cost failure.  Failures factor into more time.  Failures add value by making you re-assess how bad you want your belt.  I’ve failed earning both of my Black Belts.  I could have kicked the dirt.  Gotten down on myself and walked away, undeserving of my success.  Here’s a hard fact – if that is your decision, then you don’t deserve a Black Belt.  Failure is part of the cost.

All Black Belts require dedication.  No one can force it upon you.  You have to decide to go to class.  You have to decide to put the effort into practice.  You have to decide to keep going when nothing seems to be working out.

So I ask again, what is the value of a Black Belt?

To me, a Black Belt has no value.  To put in all the time and effort and fortitude just for a Black Belt is a waste.  To me the Black Belt only has a value once it stops being a goal.  A Black Belt’s value comes not from what you put in, but rather, what you get out of it.  A Black Belt’s true value only manifests when it ceases to be a “thing.”

So, what is the value of your Black Belt?