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The Average Person Achieves a Black Belt

Today I’m free to do whatever I want! So I’m going to catch up on work and update my blog. So it goes.

I’ve seen this thrown about lately. It’s just an image of the type you see thrown around social media.

blackbelt

I totally disagree with the above statement, for the same reasons I also disagree with motivational posters and memes. I think stuff like this just reinforces and deepens the couch to gym trench. If you already train, you may have already crossed it. To a lot of people, getting from their house to a gym, club, or field to play a sport or join an activity for the first time takes huge effort.

I’m sure the guy who first made and posted the image above meant it in a nice and not malicious way. Join a martial arts club to try to elevate yourself. In the process you will become above average. That sounds okay I suppose. I still disagree though.

I disagree because martial arts should teach you humility and respect. Saying that you consider yourself as someone’s superior merely for achieving something that, in the grand scale of things, is a minor achievement, is against my ethos. In my martial arts life, I’ve achieved two black belts. In my more self-indulgent moments, I can look back and say that yeah, I worked hard and deserved to get them based on that. But I really hope I have never looked down my nose at others because they haven’t, or don’t want to do the same. I’ve been swimming for 10 years now, but still can’t do 100 metres without stopping. Does that mean superior swimmers should mock me as below average?

Imagine the following meme: How long does it take the average person to build up to swimming 50 uninterrupted laps of the pool?
Answer: The average person will never do 50 uninterrupted laps of the pool.

This is completely true, but if a swimmer friend of mine posted it on my facebook timeline, I’d probably think he was a prick. That would not serve to motivate me. It would serve to demean my hitherto modest achievements and possibly even demotivate me. I’d be thinking that whenever I went to the pool, the “real” swimmers were looking down at me. I wouldn’t want to go back. It’s already difficult enough having people glide by me effortlessly while I gasp and splash my way from one end of the pool to the other without thinking other swimmers view me as a below average person.

Imagine the same with any activity. How long does it take the average person to get a degree in Economics? How long does it take the average person to become a carer for OAPs? How long does it take the average overweight person to lose weight? How long does it take the average person to learn how to paint in watercolour?

The answer is always the same. Most people don’t do any of the above. But with work, dedication, and interest, the average person could do all of the above. Not easily, and not without sacrifice, but it can be done by anyone. A black belt is the same.

This is a good documentary if you have an hour, but if you don’t, here’s a quote from Chris Hauter from it.

“In ten years you could be anything. But why not also be a black belt?”

That sums it up better for me than anything I’ve heard. Anyone can do it. Just get started.

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