Why You Should Throw Your Black Belt Away

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

Yeah! I said it! Your black belt means nothing, but a participation trophy! You’ve got a black belt, yet you still suck! I can’t count the amount of times I have seen people who say they’re martial artists yet their kicks have no lines to them. Their punches contain no power and they’re out of shape. A true martial artist possesses technique, power, skill, heart and is in great physical shape.

Michael Jai white is the perfect example of a martial artist who is in great physical shape with technique and skill.

Gone are the days of martial arts dojos popping up like McDonalds franchises promising you the ability to fight and move like the great Bruce Lee. I get it! A lot of us came up in the era of The Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Chuck Norris, Kung Fu flicks, American Ninja and Segal.

But now is the era where many fighters are inspired by Tony Jaa’s Muy Thai,

Iko Uwais' bloody fights from The Raid, John Wick brutality and the explosion of MMA and UFC fighters. In other words, everyone wants realistic training. Combat moves that you can actually use if you were to get into a real fight.

Did you know that Bruce Lee nor Jackie Chan have a black belt? Lee was trained in Kung Fu and Kung Fu doesn’t use a belt system. He's also noted to have said, "Belts are only used to hold up your pants."

In fact there are plethora of martial arts stars who don't posses belts.

Did you know that it’s uncommon knowledge that the belt system was inspired by ancient martial artists who wore white belts around their training robes and over time their belts would get dirty or black the more they trained? Outsiders would look at this and know who was the most skilled martial artist by how dark their belt's were. (The more you know) *insert sparkle sound*

Keanu Reeves in John Wick

As a seasoned martial artist myself I later saw that the belt system was a form of up-sell for the dojos to keep you coming back over a course of 4 - 5 years to obtain a black belt. I recently went into a dojo to see how long it would take to obtain my black belt and how much the lesson would be per month. Long story short, it came to a little over $4,000 over a course of 4.5 years when nowadays I could just train hardcore in my backyard using YouTube videos to learn all the cool kicks and forms, then drive down the street to the local fight supply store and buy myself a pretty black belt. One dojo I trained at you had to obtain 4 stripes across your belt before you even moved to the next belt. It’s all business! I’m not knocking the hustle, but calling it what it is.

Now before you attack me for calling a spade a spade, let’s talk about some of the benefits of taking formal martial arts classes:

  • Discipline

  • Technique

  • Leadership Skills

  • A sense of pride

  • Respect

  • A network of fellow martial artists

  • An official certification in your style

Those are the great things they give you especially if you would like to teach traditional martial arts. Not to mention that it still sounds cool as hell when you tell someone that you hold a black belt. So in closing if you’re looking for what formal training offers, then go for it, but the purpose of this article is to encourage those who don’t have the expenses or time to take the classes that it is OK! Everybody has to start somewhere. So go and get you some comfortable athletic gear and start throwing those kicks and punches around, but don’t forget to stretch first.... Osss!

About the author:

Jordan Cann is a professional actor, filmmaker and martial artists who holds a degree in Film Science from the Los Angeles film school. He's been actively working in the Hollywood scene since 2009. He has been on both ends of the spectrum: Producing, writing, editing, and directing behind the camera as well as performing in front of the camera. He's worked with many major music acts as a dancer, worked in stunts, and flexed his acting skills on primetime television shows and movies. When he's not doing that he runs J&S Film Productions LLC an independent film company producing short films, music videos and feature films. He can be reached through his social media or you can send him a personal email.