I Remember Being A White Belt
I tied on my first belt, my white belt when I was 4 years old at Bellingham Academy of Self-Defense…. way back in 1976.
At the time I was getting bullied by two older local boys and my father believed that I should learn to stand up for myself, so he enrolled me for Martial Arts classes. He took me down to the local Martial Arts school and enrolled me. I remember driving home with my white uniform and white belt.
On my first class, I was very scared as everyone in the class was adults except for a couple kids on the side. One of the Black Belts came over to me and showed me how I was to tie my belt and explained to me that I was to treat it with great respect that it should never touch the ground. He taught me that everyday when I tie the knot I am making a commitment to becoming a better person.
It’s been many years since that day and I still remember the great commitment I make everyday when I tightly finish the knot on my belt…. to be a better person.
Everything’s the same except I have worn many different belt colors and had several different degrees of Black Belts. I don’t wear my first Black Belt anymore as it is more white than black and is threadbare.
Being a white belt was about standing in the last line at the back of the class.
Everything was new and I didn’t know what I could or couldn’t do.
Everything felt like a secret; I felt like i was studying something important, that the stances and the basics and all the techniques were gonna make me powerful and different and valuable and capable.
And you know what? They did. Yeah, it worked!
Every kid should be a white belt at least once.
I wanted to learn; I wanted to grow and that belt made me hungry.
It made me practice and learn and strive.
Looking back, the martial arts has been one of my best friends and teachers; and while I’ve had innumerable experiences over the last 4+ decades of training, my best day, my favorite day, was the day I took that new white belt and tied it on.
For this kid it was the day I started this amazing journey and whenever I see some young person tie on his or her first belt I think to myself, “Oh man, you are so lucky, so fortunate” and I always go out of my way to make sure they have a good experience.
Parents, if you’re looking for a gift to give your child; something they might use for, oh say, about 50 years or so, consider a plain white belt.
– Grand Master Brandon Richards, 9th Degree Black Belt