.. that’s a pretty bold title I suppose, but it’s true. If there is one simple secret to success in the Martial Arts it’s this.

Perseverance is the key to Mastery

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying that goes: “A black belt is a white belt that never quit”.That’s a great way to summarise a major key to success in the martial arts. Perseverance.

We all experience ups and downs in all aspects of our lives, and learning a new skill is no exception. To begin with, when you start training it’s all new and exciting, initially the reward you get far outweighs the effort you need to put in.

After a while the initial excitement will settle down and you reach the stage where you realise that in order to progress you need to actually put some real work in to succeed. In these days where we’re conditioned for instant gratification that can be a challenge to say the least!

Modern society has conditioned us, especially our children, to have an “I want it now” attitude. We are not willing to invest the time to achieve maximum results. Children are growing up with an entitlement mentality. I want it now, it is owed to me, everyone has one so I deserve one too. This is leading people into a dangerous future where they are simply not able to deal with challenges and the default answer is “I quit!”.

The real secret to mastery however is learning to recognise these dips and persevere, because when you push through the flat spot and come out the other side, the rewards are worth it.  You’ll often find your ability, your confidence and your motivation take a huge surge forward.

In addition to the obvious benefits to your martial arts training, by developing your perseverance like this you’re developing self-discipline which will benefit you in every area of your life..

It’s pretty much a certainty that every one of us will experience such a dip at some points, and it probably won’t be the only one, eventually you’ll find yourself facing another.  The key then is to remember the lessons learned before, and use that experience to build the certainty that you can push through it, onwards and upwards to greater progress.

This is one of the reasons it really helps to keep a journal to log your training progress, and to record the ‘magic moments’ that helped you through the challenges you’ve faced along the way.  If you hit a challenge in the future, you can look back and remind yourself how you worked through it and the rewards you got for doing so.

Learn from the experience of others

If you’re struggling to push yourself forward at times, remember that you’re not the first person to experience this! Talk to some of the senior students and I’m sure they’ll all be able to relate to how you feel. Just about all of the current black belts could give you examples of challenges, setbacks and ‘flat spots’ they’ve had in their own training. But they all share one common trait. They never gave up. They used that key black belt skill of perseverance and it helped shape them into the Black Belt they became.

Share your experiences with others.

For example, use the Academy forum to discuss your training, keep a journal and share motivational tips with your fellow students.

Parents – keep in touch, use our experience!

We know that sometimes you’ll find it tough when your child goes through one of these natural dips, and of course they don’t yet understand the benefit of perseverance that we as adults can appreciate.  It’s really important that we help them to learn this skill, and support and encourage them during those flat spots.

It’s tricky sometimes to stick to your guns, especially when I child says “I don’t want to go tonight” or worse still “I don’t want to go any more!” but the key thing is to remember the reasons you enrolled them in the first place, think of the ‘big picture’ benefits that we can understand.  After all, I’m sure they’ve said they don’t want to go to school a few times by now too, but we understand the benefits to be gained from a formal education.  In the martial arts we add in the many benefits of some really valuable life skills and character development too.

Here are some great examples: 10 reasons Martial Arts benefit kids

If you’re having a challenge with your child’s motivation, please let us know ASAP!  Having taught literally hundreds of children over the years we can almost always help.

Here are a couple of great articles which discuss this further:


“A black belt is a white belt that never quit”.

Master Olpin presented with 6th Degree Black Belt

Master Olpin, presented with 6th Degree Black Belt and GIMA Instructor of the Year

Last weekend, a group of Ilyokwan students travelled up to Nottingham for the Guild of Independant Martial Arts (GIMA) conference weekend.

The weekend proved to be a double celebration as Master Olpin was presented with two awards: GIMA Instructor of the Year 2013, and a promotion to 6th Degree Black Belt!

A personal message from Master Olpin..

I’d like to take a moment to express my gratitude and say a very special personal thank-you to everyone involved in both these nominations and to those of you who’d conspired to provide testimonials etc in support of them..

I am especially grateful to Mr Hirst and to Mr Davison who provided the nominations, and to the students who attended the event. It meant a lot to me that you were there to share such a memorable evening with me.

After 30 years in the martial arts one tends to stop worrying about the number of stripes on a belt etc. As an instructor the real rewards are earned in the progress and support of your students. It means a great deal to me to know that my students appreciate what I do, that my peers and fellow instructors had such nice things to say, and that they felt I was deserving of both the instructor of the year award, and the promotion.

I’m truly humbled to receive both awards, and inspired to raise my game even further to continue to earn the respect that you’ve so graciously shown me.

Thank you all, and Kaizen!

ALL GREAT BLACK BELTS LEARN THAT THE WORDS they use, especially when they are talking to “themselves,” make a HUGE impact on their lives and their success!

Using these NEGATIVE words limit you, and cause you to focus on what can’t be done, rather than what CAN be done!

Avoid using these negative words with others and ESPECIALLY yourself!

1. No: 

Instead of finding what you can’t do, it’s important for you to see the opportunity that is hiding in any challenge. If your instructor asked if you can kick “head high,” telling him or her “no” immediately makes your brain “give up”. If you answered “I’ll try,” your brain will give you the power to try!

2. Can’t: 

Winning Black Bets know that ANY limitation is temporary! If you “can’t” do something today, say a form, a kick, or 100 push ups, what if you practiced for a month? Instead of telling yourself you “can’t,” ask yourself “How can I?” This will put your brain to work figuring out how you can accomplish your goal!

3. Never: 

The best Black Belts know that with time, patience, and focus all things are possible! Of course there are physical limits of what a human can do, BUT, if you see another person who has accomplished something, that means that YOU CAN TOO!

4. Maybe: 

Maybe is what people say when they have no intention of accomplishing something, but don’t want to tell you directly! It’s a “cop out.” Don’t allow yourself to make this “excuse” to others, and especially to yourself!



(Original post courtesy of NAPMA)