Colour of Your Belt

Can the Colour of Your Belt Can Improve Your Life?


Many adults are intrigued by the idea of getting their black belts in a martial art. But before considering taking on such an active recreational hobby a lot of questions will float around in our minds, preventing us from even attempting it. The benefits of training for a black belt may be mostly obvious, such as getting active, confidence, the thrill of executing new skills and making new friends or even keeping old friendships strong. Despite this, we still don’t have enough information about what it will be like in class and if the black belt goal is realistic. To break the ice a little and to give a little perspective to training for a black belt, let’s look at a few of the most common questions adults have before starting out:


Why should adults consider getting a black belt?

In today’s mostly sedentary lifestyle, our bodies are getting older before their time. For years the medical profession believed that it was normal and predicable for adults to lose 10% of their muscle mass per year after the age of 40. And that falls and hip fractures were increasingly unavoidable as we aged. Recent research has proven this wrong (Look for research by Dr. Don McGuff and Dr. Phil Campbell). The continual muscle loss and falls are a direct relationship to our level and type of physical activity. Those who maintain an active lifestyle, by continually challenging their physical bodies into their senior years do not suffer from deterioration of muscle mass, are less likely to fall and should they fall are less likely to be injured and will recover more quickly and completely from injuries. In addition, their brains remain sharper and are less likely to get dementia.


Unlike almost all other fitness venues, martial arts are one of, if not the most all inclusive activity that a person can engage in to build and maintain their body and mind. A good martial arts program will cover all aspects of fitness from aerobic to anaerobic, from strength to flexibility and from physical agility to mind body integration. A good martial arts program will also build authentic, practical confidence into a participant’s physical and emotional abilities along with improved awareness and many other life benefits. In comparison, traditional fitness activities are lucky to provide even a handful of these benefits in one program. By setting your goal on achieving a black belt you are ensuring a steady guided progress to a much healthier you that will provide a base to enjoy all aspects of life for the long term. In this you will be growing not only your fitness but also your knowledge and ability to maintain your health for the rest of your life.


Do I need to be in shape first, before I begin my first class?

The answer to this question is no. Fitness and skills are best developed together. Working new skills at a natural and especially at low intensity improves co-ordination and overall success in achieving the skills. As the skills become effective, the intensity increases allowing a safe and comfortable progression in fitness. There is also a large advantage to progressing in this steady manner in skill and fitness; it develops body intelligence. I would love to discuss body intelligence in depth, but I will just allude to one main point: Body intelligence is the awareness that the physical body has during movements, this awareness does not require mental thought so it is therefore incredibly efficient in controlling the body’s movements. This matters because with it the body will always move in the safest way possible, not from a reactionary stand-point, but from an efficiency stand-point. If body intelligence is nurtured you will have the foundation to learn any skill with ease and support any level of fitness you desire. To be clear, body intelligence is mainly developed during slow motion types of training. The program of course progresses from a beginner class to advanced classes so all skill levels will always be appropriately challenged. Having said this, National Training Centre offers fitness kickboxing (Cardio Kickboxing) classes designed purely to improve fitness. These classes are available to our Kickboxing members to complement their skills classes simply for the fun of it or to accelerate their fitness goals.


What if I have daily pain and stiffness, is it safe to train for a black belt?

This is for those who have stiffness, old injuries or other conditions that make their bodies uncomfortable. Poor nutrition and exercising the wrong way can worsen some conditions and lock in old stiffness, so it is important to eat healthy and strive to become more in-tune with your body. Doing kickboxing classes that include all the supportive body-awareness type training will offer the body a chance to be rewired, rediscover freedom of movement, and will ultimately make you more comfortable day-to-day in your regular life. The training goal in National Training Centre’s Kickboxing classes is to bring comfort to your body rather than aggravate it. If another style of martial art is your interest, be sure to supplement your training to compensate for any discomfort caused by training. If the program you choose does not incorporate it, you may need to compliment your training with some body awareness practices, for an example, check out Somatics by Thomas Hanna.


Do I have to compete or train with competitive people in class?

Some people may benefit from competition but many do not. Each school will have a different feel in this respect. Some pride themselves in being Olympic competitors or in how many medals the school has won. Others may have a mixture of students – some competing and some with health or recreational interests which sometimes causes a clash of attitudes during class. A school may even have no competitors in class but those with competitive personalities might highly influence the class. According to our experience, adults learn best when their minds are completely relaxed and comfortable, and competition between students can cause intimidation in those who are not competitive, besides this – those who are compelled to compete with everyone they train with end up missing out on some aspects of training that require trusting and experiencing harmony between partners. This experience increases freedom and greater body intelligence. Needless to say, National Training Centre has chosen to have a purely recreational Kickboxing program and we also make efforts to keep the environment friendly in class and support comradery between all. Training with other people can build wonderful friendships when everyone is caring for each other.


Do I have to spar?

Sparring is an often misunderstood element of martial arts training. There is a wide variety of sparring practices that are dependent on the goals and priorities of a particular art. Though sparring does provide some benefits, it is often overrated for its importance in a program. Depending on one’s training objectives, sparring can be fun and invigorating for participants when they are properly matched and prepared. However, sparring can be counterproductive and a source of discouragement when poorly applied. For adults, the greatest benefit from practicing martial arts is long term health and personal safety. Sparring offers little to contribute to either of these goals. Many people mistakenly credit good sparring skills for good self-defence skills but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, from a self-defence perspective, sparring, if prioritized too highly in a program, can actually entrench many bad habits and false confidence. That said, it does offer a fun way to integrate your skills with natural flow and ease when practiced correctly and with the right goals. For those who fancy the idea of competition, it can be an exhilarating and great experience but for those who are interested in the more practical benefits of martial arts it should be practiced sparingly. In many martial arts, sparring is a primary measure of achievement but because National Training Centre is focused on providing training for life, sparring is a variable training practice that is targeted for those who will benefit from the practice.


What if I am uncomfortable, or just don’t want to, wear a strange uniform and learn to say different words or numbers in another language?


This is an interesting point to consider, some people love immersing themselves in another culture in order to learn a martial art, while many others just want to feel just “themselves” while training. This point also highlights the huge variety of styles that are available out there which would offer the opportunity to earn a black belt; from karate and tae-kwon-do to judo and jiu-jitsu. Most of your choices will consist of styles based on historical traditions and will therefore include many cultural elements. However, kickboxing is one style to consider, having largely homegrown roots, it offers a more familiar environment along with simple and effective skills. National Training Centre teaches this very style. Though it is most common to find traditional uniforms and other cultural elements in most schools – there are exceptions; at National Training Centre our uniforms consist of a school t-shirt, comfortable pants and your current belt colour around your waist. And if you even want to avoid going barefoot, purchase some wrestling boots and you are set – these are the basic needs of someone getting ready to workout and earn a black belt in Kickboxing!


How long does it take to get a black belt?

Depending on the style and school you choose, requirements for moving up through the levels will be completely different in standards so you may find your self progressing through at an unusual speed due to lack of good material or standards if you are not careful. Sure, getting your black belt in as little time as possible sounds exciting, right? Well, think for a minute about that. If you want a black belt, most people will value it only if they feel they have worked hard for it, earned it honestly and if they feel well trained by the time they get there. At National Training Centre, the average time to earn a black belt is from as little as three to four years. However, we should remember that even though this is the average these days, this really is a very short time to master anything – any sport takes many years to develop proficiency. Here are three main points to always remember:

  1. Enjoy yourself, each step and every level.
  2. Work hard.
  3. Take purposeful breaks and refresh your perspective once in a while.


In following these steps you’ll be sure not to quit on your goal. Before long you will be

puttering through the levels and maintaining your healthy, active self. We hope that these answers will be just what you need to finally take the plunge and get your

black belt – you can do it! Have fun and be sure to visit National Training Centre to check out our excellent Self-Defence Kickboxing program. Click on Adults and Schedule for more information and ask about our 2-week trial.