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The Black Belt Myth

I have a little confession to make, as a Teakwon-Do instructor, about a belt – so black, it defies both time and space.

The image of that dark, mysterious and exotic belt – flawlessly tied around the six-pack abs of a fearless fighter – was projected at you day and night, by everyone around you.

That fighter? – It could be YOU.
That fearlessness? – It could be YOURS.
Those abs too...

Just get the black belt, and everything would be perfect.

Well… At least that’s what they wanted you to believe…

They really did, and for the most parts they actually succeeded trough all those Books, Movies, TV shows, Magazines and, Advertisements.

Until you realized the following:

No matter how many times you watched The Karate Kid, Kwai Chang Caine or Ninja Turtles, the ancient cornerstone principles upon which the art rested would NEVER have anything to do with a piece of black cloth hanging around your waist.

The black belt was a lie, a myth, a fairytale, based on a fundamentally flawed fact.

You see, the day after you got your black belt, when all the partying and hoopla stopped, you undoubtedly came to a pretty disturbing realization:

Nothing changes…

Sure, you probably have a few more bruises. Maybe even a black eye, or a sore rib. And your wallet is probably a bit slimmer, from that hefty grading fee you had to pay.

But you’re still the Exact Same Guy/Girl.

  • You still forget tiny details in the patterns.
  • You still make “stupid” mistakes in the basic techniques.
  • You still get your ass kicked in sparring.
  • And yes… You still have trouble with self-confidence, motivation or injuries.
  • Just like the day before – when you didn’t have your black belt yet.

What a… Relief!

Now you can finally stop focusing on “that belt”,

and start focusing on yourself.


A black belt is not the end. It never was. It is the very beginning.

Øyvind Nyborg