Its hard to explain to someone that does not put on the white pajamas and belt or Keikogi and Obi what its like to wear one. Its funny because when I put on the white jacket and pants and tug on my black belt I actually become someone completely different. My mind set changes, I have a different focus and some really weird physiological things occur that probably only my wife can tell you is true! First off when you pull that belt around your waist, which is the preferred location for it by the way…we stopped wearing them around our head in the 90’s.. you should have your focus and attitude change. You always represent the Dojo and your instructor but at the moment you put that cloth belt around yourself you represent the instructor, the club and every senior that ever corrected you! You are duty bound to show respect, honor and work hard to progress further! The belt represents not just what level of learning or RANK, but it represents your level of commitment and your understanding of what it is to be a Karate practitioner. When you put it on you are saying that you understand that you must respect your peers, your juniors and seniors and your instructors and that you will work hard to help build a strong family in the club! Family! That’s a key term that I like to use when referring to our organization and individual clubs. We are a family in a lot of ways. Those that put the belt on are choosing to be a member of that family. Distant relative or strong family member, we are all part of the same pack of hard working family members working to build the organization and continue driving the tradition. When I don’t have my belt on I am the chairman, my job is to drive the organization to be bigger, to progress and to get instructors ready to teach. I focus a lot of my time on the marketing of the group, most of which I have given away and I kind of just monitor. I spend a lot of time doing paperwork, planning and I focus a lot on helping others out, researching prices for equipment, placing orders and working on the next testing and seminars. I maintain paperwork and electronic lists and all the things that tick off my wife because I am so darn busy with 10,000 little things! But when that belt gets strapped on I am no longer the chairman of the board, I am a JKA instructor and a student of my Sensei, I represent the new age of JKA in Manitoba with a solid want and need for better Kihon Waza, a love of Kata and a want to spar. I treat everyone equally and I trudge forwards against time trying to perfect techniques and understanding of Karate. My posture straightens up, my movements crisp and I become a different thinking person. When you put on the belt you should feel that change as well. You should feel energized and ready to go. You should feel that want to have a soaking Gi before the end of the night and the want to train like a little kid. The Belt is a gateway to a different person and it should be this way. The Dojo is a place to be that special person you cannot when outside! I encourage this and would love to foster the feeling in all the students. Outside the Dojo we have stress, we have responsibilities and we have family to worry about and labor that we must do. Inside the dojo, once the Gi flaps are tied shut and the belt is tied tightly let all that go, become a different person and remember that for that hour or two you are not the person outside that club, you have no stress other than the physical ones you are being asked to do and you have not responsibility other than to yourself and your fellow students. Let everything else go for two hours! Become a different person and enjoy your relaxed state and work hard to build on your skills. When I strap on that belt I am a different person mentally and physiologically. Its my time to be me and not worry about what others think, to help students and to connect with people. That’s what my belt does for me!