A belt is used to hold your pants. If you take that everyday attitude during your aikido practice you’ll notice an improvement in your attitude, practice and self-esteem. That growth will spill over into other parts of your life, such as your chosen sport and education. Making you a better student and a better person. Each one of us have our own individual personality, trying his or her best to improve. Our rank should never be used to hurt or impress your juniors or school friends or even yourself, the most important aspect of your rank is you. Some masters when they reach a black belt say, now I must become this black belt. Not just any black belt but the black belt, the one everyone looks up to and respects sincerely. Martial arts (aikido) is a way of life and a serious choice. It goes beyond belt colours, competition and technique. It is a mixture of mind and body. Being humble is important but it is a lost art among young people today. Many martial artists like to show off, brag or poke fun at their juniors in class. Those acts are disgraceful, cowardly and dishonorable. If you can become a good and humble person, you are well on your way to earning a higher rank in the practice of Aikido. Rank should never be judged with the colour of the cloth around your waist, but with the honour and respect you hold dearly for yourself and for others. I feel undeserved of my current belt. But very humble to my teacher for having such faith in me. But my art has become my way of life. There will never be an end of my study, to the mistakes I make or, I hope, to my progression. Always remember failure is another chance to try again and work harder. In a perfect world, every one that enters an aikido school would behave properly, but unfortunately some are just bullies by nature, they make a honest student life more difficult. But these students never last very long and eventually quit when they realize they have been discovered. That becomes your biggest strength and the best way to excel in Aikido also your chosen sport. Your body will become one with your mind and your spirit will get stronger, your rank will not seem as important as trying to better yourself in aikido, sport or daily life. Think of yourself as a chalkboard: before every lesson, wipe the board clean. Think about nothing but getting your muscles nice and relaxed and supple ready for an exhilarating exercise session and a test of your own will power. As the days progress, so will you. Your rank will increase accordingly, but don’t wear your new belt to show off. Instead, wear it as a pointer for you to remember who you are and how hard you’ve worked how fare you’ve come and how far you have to go. By now, you should recognize that there is no end, no true mastery and true ranking. All the answers, all your confidence, all your wisdom and how you apply it come from your own progress and ability to look within yourself and not at others. Remember that teachers award belts for may reason; to follow traditions, to offer encouragement and to indicate what the student knows. Remember also that black belts were originally just white belts that have been worn a long time. Allow yourself the chance to experience that, changing of colour. It’s our way forward in daily life. Learning to be humble, patient, strong and healthy in mind and body, to see our way to helping not just ourselves but those around us to be happy in daily life. You have already taken the first steps, it is a calling very few take advantage of. Cherish what you have found in yourself and practice hard and sincerely. Always remember to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Politeness and common decency are very much part of Ki-Aikido practise and principles within the Ki-Aikido development federation.
Sensei W. Bennett