Character Chats

Purpose of Training to Black Belt

What is our purpose in training to black belt?

Here at True Balance Karate in Downers Grove, Illinois, we have a social-emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio. I was a special education teacher for 15 years, and I have two master’s degrees in education. What that means is that we’ve developed this program to best meet the needs of our youngest students of three or four and our oldest students of 84.

And this month, we’re talking about purpose.

Last week, we talked about defining what purpose was, having goals and motivation, having intents, being focused, coming up with your reasons, your “what am I trying to accomplish and why.” That gives you purpose.

Black Belt Goal-Setting

And this week, we’re talking about setting that goal for black belt. What is our purpose in training? Why do we come here to the studio?

And when, as parents, I’m sure who’ve all seen it with our kids. When it’s something fun, they love it, and then, something else fun comes along and they’d rather do that fun thing. Our kids are very, very present-centered in that way.

And the purpose of training here is to help them grow as people. It’s not just about the punching and the kicking. It’s helping them grow as confident people, as individuals, as people that can advocate for themselves, as people that can tackle the hard projects. And even some of our adult students will tell you that coming in and training has given them a different purpose, has given them a different outlook on how they view the world and how they wish to be treated within that world.

And so one of the things that we use is the martial arts. So we use our belt system. We use setting that goal for black belt. You can see our black belt commitment wall. All of these students have made a commitment that they would like to achieve black belt. And so, we use those things as a way to help demonstrate purpose.

Purpose in Practice

There’s a purpose in learning how to make a good front stance. There’s a purpose in learning how to do a proper front kick because your purpose is the ultimate goal, which is three, four, five years, depending on where they are on their journey right now of earning black belts. There’s a reason behind polishing, practicing, making things that you think you already know how to do better.

I’ve had many conversations with students, with parents, with my own kids and inevitably, one of the statements is, “I already know how to do that. Why do I need to do this again?” I’m sure we’ve heard it when it comes to school things or when it comes to practicing an instrument. I remember saying it specifically to my parents when I was learning how to play the piano back in junior high and high school, “I already know how to play this song. Why would I need to practice it again?”

And the act of doing something again and again and again because we set a goal gives us purpose. It gives us a reason to continue to practice that way.

And so coming in and training towards black belt gives you the “what.” What are you trying to accomplish? Black belt. So why should you do it again and again and again? Because you want to be the best version of yourself as you can. You want to show up for yourself that way. And your “why” is also your “what.” And it gives you purpose.

Optimism in Our Purpose

And again, we talked about optimism last month. There comes a point in everybody’s journey where they might say it’s too hard or they might say that they got bored or they might say that it’s just not fun anymore.

And using what we learned last month for optimism to apply to this month and purpose helps to boost those duller moments, those unmotivated moments, if you will, so that we can keep our goals, keep our purpose at the front of our minds. And so tying optimism with purpose is a really good thing. And next month, we’re going to talk about vision.

And when you put all three of those things together, you have a way of setting a goal, seeing it through in a positive way, visualizing what it looks like at the end and it just makes the reason behind what you’re doing that much clearer.

And so, we come here to train towards black belts so that we make ourselves better. We show up for ourselves in a better way. We practice our teamwork skills. We practice our focus skills, our responsibility skills. We practice our self-evaluation skills in making sure that we have really done the best job that we can. And that is our purpose for training to black belt.

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here