Parent's Guide to Prepare for Tomorrow — the Road to Black Belt
A black belt in taekwondo is not just something to tie around our body when we train. It's achievement is representative of our success — success acquired through dedication and perseverance. The "Road to Black Belt" is not just our martial arts journey, but most importantly it is our journey in life coupled with our hope to succeed.
Really? How so?
Indeed, because we are most definitely trained mentally, not just physically. We approach how we treat others and ourselves with a set of tenets which serve to strengthen our resolve to achieve and to succeed. The tenets are:
Perseverance (never give up)
Integrity (act fairly with justice)
Selflessness (commitment and service)
Below is a helpful guide to keep you on the path to your black belt. If attaining black belt was easy, every one who joined would receive it. We want to see you attain it. There is only road block to black belt — you! Do not give up...
How many activities should I do...?
There is a saying: "Jack of all trades, master of none". The original version "a jack of all trades" was used firstly as a compliment for a person who is good at many things. Sometime later in the 18th century, the expression was updated to include the "master of none" element, thus making the statement unflattering. Why? Perhaps the usefulness of superficial skills in many areas did not stack against the usefulness of competent skills in even just one activity? Perhaps this explains why doctors specialise, as do accountants, lawyers, builders and even our military service.
Today in 2023 we — especially children — seem to have an unending smorgasbord of extracurricular activities. It may be sport, or it may be in the arts, or it may be socialising, or it may just be on a device. The adage above implies it would not be so useful to know a little bit of each musical instrument in a band, because you would never be able to properly use your skill. Makes sense. In contrast, would it not be better to learn one or maybe two of the instruments and seek to master them?
Do we try too many activities? It is likely healthy to do so, but what is our goal? If our goal is to achieve and be practical with our skill, then we would need to dedicate to a chosen activity. This doesn't stop us trying out other activities (but more for the experience of the fun of it). Choosing at least one core activity to maintain, nurture and study will likely lead to mastery.
So to be masterful, we should limit our choices? That sounds more like living in the 20th century, not the 21st? Is this even fun? That is for you to decide, but being skilful at something in life is always rewarding. We are respected for our skills and we feel a sense of inherent sense.
However, now we are in a conundrum. Which to choose? Invariably we will usually choose what we are good at, or what we enjoy the most. Hopefully our choices include both! Our experience at Sun Bae has shown us that students who enjoy our martial arts classes are most likely to attain black belt.
When choosing, it should be noted there is perhaps a difference between arts and sports. Art skills hold for life, whilst sport skills are short-term and eventually fade. Golf is a good example of an activity which straddles both, played even by 80 year olds. Excluding pro golfers, it is an activity which is usually played only against yourself, trying to better your handicap each game. Can football, rugby, league, cricket, netball or basketball be a life enduring activity? Alas, even for the professional, it is not likely. Can music, painting and other arts be life enduring? Of course, because they are arts and there is no team, no competition and no strict requirements. These activities, like golf, can be performed and enjoyed by ourselves.
Where does Taekwondo fit in do you think?
Taekwondo can be a sport, but it is most definitely an art first. It indeed offers competition at the highest levels such as the Olympics. However, even in local competitions the number actually competing is extremely low. Taekwondo is for all ages, something that can be part of your life without an expiry date. We can participate many times a week or even just once depending upon your life's schedule. We can go holidays and come back to it. Importantly, Taekwondo also is accompanied by tenets (see above) which shape our behaviour in a useful way, making our life in and out of the training hall positive.
When choosing where we spend our time — later asking ourselves what we have to show for it — we should be most mindful.
How to get there...?
How to get where? Our first thought of "how to get there" shows our mindset. Perhaps we were thinking: black belt? But what is a black belt to you? We can only say what it is to us at Sun Bae. We like to think that Black belts are leaders in society, some of the pillars upon which our great nation stands. Black belts are helpful and polite, usually thinking of others around them — well adjusted members of our community. Black belts are not perfect, but that is the journey.
Attaining black belt belt is not so difficult, but the biggest obstacle is our determination. It is easy to give up. Our training is not sport, it is art and martial art training is not just about kicking or punching. It includes learning tools such as perseverance — a definite prerequisite for attaining your black belt.
To attain perseverance, you will firstly acquire other attributes along the way, such as courtesy and self-control, losing any mean way to hopefully become more selfless. It would be fair to say that no black belt has been achieved (nor any success in life) without perseverance.
Our lives are not so consistent. We are sometimes sad and sometimes happy. How do we deal with this? Sometimes poorly. There are days when we come back from work or school and convince ourselves we are just "too tired" to do anything, let alone go to a Taekwondo class (even though that is the remedy for your ailment). No one seems exempt from this, but those who go to class nonetheless are usually rewarded. After a good physical class, after seeing our friends, whilst showing loyalty to our instructor (who cannot choose to ever stay at home), we often feel better for coming.
Taekwondo teaches us to never give up. We learn to tolerate the intolerable, work with the unworkable and lead our friends down the right path of life. We learn to deal with disappointment, which comes often too much in life, dealing realistically with feedback and results, spurring us to work even harder — rather than give up. We grit and we accomplish. We learn how to deal with losing and make it a strength. If accomplishment was easy, everyone would be doing it. We meet new people and we make lifelong friendships — for what else is life about? Successes will happen, but not overnight.
It takes years of hard work and practice to attain black belt. Worried? Then think of it like this: it is 90 minutes, we do it twice in a week (less time than a night of watching entertainment). The hours roll into days, which roll into weeks, which roll into months and then years of effort. It will happen for you by simply taking one step at a time.
Will I really get there...?
That is up to you. But if we dedicate, it is a matter of time. But please do not waste our time. Choose our other (sport) activities wisely and enjoy them. Be productive with our academic or business life and stay healthy. Do not make excuses for ourselves. The time is now, not later. Make way for living and be all we can be.
What we choose to do with our time, which is precious, is a very important decision. Sometimes we (and parents) put an end to activities over the choice of school work. School work must come first. But the young mind must also have an avenue to refresh the mental thoughts with physical activity. Being "productive" versus "time spent" is more likely the key. Studying early morning is proven to be more productive than at night for example. There are studies that have proven training in a traditional martial art actually enhance the ability to do well at school. This makes sense considering martial arts is about self-discipline and perseverance.
Believe in ourselves and trust in our Instructors — we will get there. Our only road block is ourselves.
Editors note: GM Bradley told a story recently where he recalled a recent meeting with an old training friend. They were 1st Dan together in the 1980's. His friend was amazed that GM Bradley was now a grandmaster. He commented with a grin that he too could have been a grandmaster. GM Bradley quickly corrected him by saying it could never have happened. To become a black belt, then a master and then a grandmaster requires at the very least a strong spirit of perseverance. So by quitting at 1st Dan, this only proved this aspect had never really been acquired or properly learned. To get to 1st Dan a great achievement, but it is wasted once it is thrown away — because Taekwondo is not a sport, it is an art. The President of Kukkiwon told GM Bradley in July 2023 that "Taekwondo is a gift from God"... (food for thought).
What can we do to get there...?
Not giving up is a good start. There will be times when we feel like we cannot get there or we cannot do some technique which is a bit more advanced. But that is only us thinking that. The reality is that we just need a bit more time.
Regular attendance is crucial. Twice per week allows muscle memory to build. To train less is not helpful and will not achieve the results we are expecting. To train more is only required when getting ready for something special, like a grading test.
Be responsible with our time. Our business life or school life must be prioritised and accompanying work undertaken to assist should be productive — so we have time to go to our martial arts classes.
Does your investment count...?
Sun Bae Korean Martial Arts was very fortunate to have survived the COVID pandemic. Not all schools were so lucky. The Sun Bae Instructors put forth every effort to keep us on track. The pace may have slowed, but we kept momentum. Our club was able to resume classes after three months of complete lockdown, many others did not. What a joy is was to appreciate the simple pleasure of leaving our house and to participate in a good old fashioned activity of sweating and puffing altogether with friends and family nearby.
Taekwondo is most definitely a healthy, character building activity.
The club is very grateful to parents who invest not only their money, but their precious time for their children in order to train in Taekwondo. To do nothing is to receive nothing. The opportunity to practice Taekwondo in turn provides the opportunity — especially for children — to develop life altering attributes, nothing short of a solid investment in their future.
Below we have showcased some of our black belts and how their lives have been assisted by learning Taekwondo at Sun Bae Korean Martial Arts.
Expectations to achieve...?
The pace of learning and attainment of skills will always be different. Comparisons to other students' progress is not helpful. We will always have varying physical abilities, different mental maturities and be spread over broad age groups, genders and body sizes.
It is more likely skills can be acquired faster simply because of class time and time spent outside of class. This cannot happen without dedication and perseverance (and enjoyment!). As Bruce Lee quoted 'Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today' . We can all see how true this is.
Make mistakes and be okay with it: this is how we learn. Try not to make the same mistake again.
Challenge yourself. Easy conquests are not great achievements.
To achieve black belt, we need to start working on it now, even if it is just gradual. It is our journey and we should travel upon it at our own pace, no different to a bicycle ride down the road. However, we must keep our pace moving. To cease too much will cause us to fall.
Who has gotten there...
Sun Bae is proud that many of our juniors journeyed to black belt and even beyond. Pictured below are Same and Hannah, Chris,, Andrew, Shayan, Erika and Anunt. All excel academically and at other sports. Interesting! Their Taekwondo journeys all began at very young ages. and we wish it to continue! They are such an inspiration to their peers and younger students. Now they can help nurture and inspire future junior black belts into the next generation.
Chris and Andrew are Sun Bae instructors too! They are currently also black belts in Hapkido and Kumdo. Inspiring! What great achievements for these young men! Their achievements have truly earn respect from not only their peers inside the training hall, but also in their daily life.
Sam & Hannah
Anunt & Erika
(with President Kim of WTA - Kukkiwon)
About Grandmaster Bradley
Our leader, Sun Bae founder and Grandmaster Bradley Tatnell is no exception. He started Taekwondo in 1982 as a teenager (just after his 14th birthday), from which he developed many positive attributes. He maintains this was of great assistance growing up in what was a very competitive time (remember home computers had not yet been invented, nor had mobile phones and the internet was still a decade plus away). His many achievements in cricket actually started to rise after commencing Taekwondo. His academic record at school increased dramatically. He finished his Accounting degree at QIT (now QUT) at age 19 and secured a prestigious job at a "big eight" firm — no small feat. And throughout all his time of childhood and adulthood, he has never stopped practising Taekwondo, continuing to teach from age 17, despite holding multiple jobs. It is clear that GM Bradley has a high respect for his martial arts and how it has helped him achieve, never looking back. The great addition to his story is that his business successes then allowed him to "retire" early and now we have him all to ourselves running Sun Bae!
At Sun Bae, all instructors have dedicated much of their personal time (as well as money) to attend courses, prepare students for competitions/gradings and to be a great leader to their students. Without masters, instructors or black belts, no one would be learning this great art. The knowledge is passed down from generation to generation. It is perhaps the duty of each student to show commitment of course, to do their best and to assist in passing down the knowledge. This shows respect and gratitude as well. Together we will endeavour to create future generations of black belts, physically strong and mentally capable. Our community can only be influenced positively.
Parents, your support is the foundation and start of such success — thank you!
At Sun Bae Korean Martial Arts, we offer Taekwondo, Hapkido and Kumdo. We have centres located across Brisbane and in Toowoomba with classes for kids and adults. For a FREE 2 week try out, get in touch with our friendly team and you too can learn Korean Martial Arts. Our Master and Head of School is very experienced and teaches us in a very traditional way (Taekwondo 8th Dan Bo, Hapkido 6th Dan, Kumdo 4th Dan). Sun Bae is popular with families and is also very social. Just click on your nearest location or text/call: 0414 574 574