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Ratty Belts 2

I previously wrote about ratty belts -- threadbare belts that are almost falling apart.

But what if the belt was given to you by your sensei, or a senior that you respect? Shouldn't you wear that belt forever to honor him (or her)?

The point is not the physical belt. A physical belt is just a thing, no matter who gives it to you. What counts is the knowledge you have gained from your sensei. What matters is how you conduct yourself in daily life. That is the way you show respect to your sensei.

When Sensei Shoshin Nagamine came to Hawaii, I was lucky to be able to drive him around the island. I drove him in my Mazda MPV. When the time came, I sold that van without a second thought.

Sensei Pat Nakata is someone I respect very much. In his dojo, they do not wear belts at all! They wear a white gi bottom and a white T-shirt. I like that very much.

I will tell you something impressive. When you can snap when you are wearing a heavy weight gi, that's nothing. When you can snap wearing a short sleeve T-shirt, that's something!

Many of us will go through many black belts in our lives. There is no spirit, no skill in the belt. If there was, we could be lessened by theft of our belts. Everything we need in Karate is right inside of us.

One of my senior students occassionally wears his Judo black belt to my class. It holds his gi together very well, just as it should. The belt has no value beyond its utility.


Charles C. Goodin