Seeking High Rank as a Black Belt

High Ranking Black Belt

Often I have been asked what is required to achieve 8th Dan Ranking. During the 2014 Season, there are several people who have been recommended to receive that honor within the World Song Moo Kwan Association. Then, what is the deciding factor?

Many train and advance with a personal agenda. An objective that is self-serving. Being considered for advancement to ranks from 5th Dan through 8th Dan Black Belt, however, you must demonstrate your dedication to giving back. To your students, your teachers, and your association.

Because the Song Moo Kwan has had such a long and rich tradition, there are many who have been working to advance the tenets of the World Song Moo Kwan Association, without direct membership. Many of these instructors have now come home to share their adventures, and skills garnered.  Many are accepting the challenge to “give back.” That decision is one step toward such advancement.

Some people figure that they deserve whatever ranking due to longevity in the system. Or, maybe because they have a hand full of black belts that have joined their Association under that tutelage. But, being a Black Belt under a certain system where you do as little as possible to advance the cause of your Grand Master’s knowledge cannot ever be considered true support.

You have to decide the value of your training. Without developing the desire to see your fellow instructors train and grow in support of our Supreme Grand Master and Senior Grand Masters, you pay little more than lip service. Many would call that “paper hanging.” Obtaining a certificate for self-aggrandizement. Moving from one association to another in hope of higher recognition.

So, who are you?

It is now 2014. A year that will define instructors claiming Song Moo Kwan lineage. But, also, for those claiming their place in building up their (your) Association.

Whether you choose to represent your Association; World Song Moo Kwan Association; World Hoshinsul Federation; World Taeguek  Kumdo Federation; North American Fung Fu Association, or any number of other organizations; choose to be truthful about why you seek higher ranking.

I might suggest you find a committee in which you would like to serve and do so. Represent your State, Region, Nation, and/or International Association. Provide an increase of seminars, area activities, and interschool training. In do this, you are giving back in a manner that promotes the Song Moo Kwan worldwide.  Not just in your small pond of those claiming to be a big fish.

Think back to what you last did to support your grandmasters… then decide why you did it. A plaque for such recognition is nice, but, when was the last time you went beyond? When was the last time (or first time) you let your seniors know how much you valued their time taken to educate you, and your school.

Everything you do does not have to produce money. But, it should produce smiles and satisfaction at seeing those who have devoted their whole world to teaching you. I guess that is why instructors look closely at their own students. They continue to evaluate whether the whole of the Association will benefit from those claiming to be so dedicated. Sometimes, a master must allow nothing to happen until the right people come along to provide the support and direction that mirrors their own. When they do arrive, care must then be taken to shore up a base. Establishing a foundation sufficient that none need worry about the direction. Only then will the Association flourish.

There are also those who have, at some point, had their feelings hurt. Maybe they succumbed to flattering words and counsel to others of what they “deserve.” When this happens, they may also choose to leave. But, the story of the prodigal son is not just biblical. Our doors remain open to those who feel offended, or have lost their way for a time. If necessary, we stand ready to apologize for any misperceived ills we have caused. Understanding the nature of man remains an integral part of martial arts training. As is permitting others to make mistakes, and still return. The truth remains the truth. No matter the consequences presumed. And what is said in private that would destroy, rather than to build, will always come to light.

Heed well this Korean proverb:

낮말은 새가 듣고 밤말은 쥐가 듣는다.

Transliteration:  Natmaleun saega deudgo bammaleun juiga deudneunda.
Translation:  Birds listen to day-words and rats listen to night-words.
English equivalent:  The walls have ears.
Meaning:  “What you say may be overheard; used as a warning.”

Once you have chosen your path, review often your actions. Support and defend those that have brought you to your present ranking. Seek guidance to obtain the next blessing in achievement. Always give back to those along the way who watch carefully your every move. For, one day, you will have advanced farther that you ever thought possible – not by fake or fraud – but by truth. Your leaders have faith in you. How about thanking them by being a support to others.

You may ask; What about the Kukkiwon, the Korea Hapkido Federation, and other important organizations? Your support begins at home. It extends to those under which we choose to remain associated. But can only be exemplified when giving true service. That\is a part of expanding Song Moo Kwan principles worldwide.

It is 2014. It is time for the Song Moo Kwan to take its rightful place of leadership in today’s martial arts world. It is time for our instructors and masters to take the lead.  And, it is time to give back for all that we have received. For tomorrow, we are the grandmasters (in training) who will lead. And their signatures and seals will one day be replaced by those we are grateful to receive.

If you desire to become a 5th, 6th, 7th or even an 8th Degree Black Belt – start with service.

The requirement still remains that you become the instrument of expanding your martial arts lineage throughout the world, for benefit of the world.

This is a pretty big task. Only you can determine if you are up to that task.

May your journey be fruitful. May your days be long. May your life be rich with friends and family. In the end, it all comes down to serving.

To Supreme Grand Master Ro, Byung Jick, Senior Grand Master Ro, Hee Sang, and distinguished Grand Masters Kim, Yong Kil, Park, Byung Hoon; and, my dear friend, Grand Master Han, Bong Soo, I thank you. May your example always be seen in those who have embraced your teachings.