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Million Dollar Black Belt

Last night I asked my students whether they thought I would promote someone to black belt (shodan) for one million dollars. Most of the students shook their heads.

I answered that I probably would do it and then put the money in the Hawaii Karate Museum. And if someone asked me whether the black belt meant something, I would say, "not at all!"

Skill is not something that you can purchase. A black belt (or any belt, title or other indicator) only has meaning if it represents a certain skill level. It is the skill that counts, not the belt. The belt means nothing at all.

If you have skill, then a belt is not necessary. If you only have a belt, but no skill, then you only paid for the cloth. You are just pretending.

A million dollars would help the Hawaii Karate Museum to preserve the history of Karate here in Hawaii and to also collect and preserve priceless Karate artifacts from around the world. That is a great and useful thing. I would surely award a person a black belt for doing such a great thing -- but it would not be in recognition of skill. It would be more of an honorary award.

In our dojo, we do not charge any fees at all for dan levels. The dan ranking is in recognition of the student's skill level. Why should I charge for recognizing something that speaks for itself? A certificate from me does not make it true. The student either has skill or he does not.

We do give a letter to dan recipients just so that there will be some evidence of the promotion. But the letter is meaningless in and of itself.

Now for ten million dollars, I think we would name the Hawaii Karate Museum after the donor. Is anyone interested? I would like to accomplish this before I am 60 (about 10 years from now).


Charles C. Goodin