A Black Belt Test at Summit Martial Arts

Summit Martial Arts SignOn Saturday, September 19, 2015 Summit Martial Arts held our 1st Black Belt Test in Calgary.  This is a sacred rite of passage only a select few will accomplish.  We adhere to a generations old, rigorous standard for our black belt promotion. As with all our belt tests, a student must EARN the belt around their waist.  It is not enough to simply show up – a student must show their skill, physical endurance, dedication, determination and their indomitable spirit.    Within our organization, Martial Virtue Alliance, all students undergo the same demanding black belt test.  When you wear a Black Belt from our organization, you can rest assured you deserve your rank.

Belts at Summit Martial Arts

Our distinguished Board consisted of 7 Black Belts from Maine, Nova Scotia and Calgary – Grand Master Michael Clark, Master Shane Morris, Master Wayne LangilleKyo Sa Nim Beckey Langille, Kyo Sa Nim Drucie JanesKyo Sa Nim Garnet McLean, and Mr. David Uy.

Black Belt Test at Summit Martial Arts

This day has been a year in the making.  A Black Belt Test requires a tremendous amount of work and dedication on the part of the student and their instructor.  Our Black Belt test challenges every part of the body and the mind.  We spend a lot of time discussing and working on a positive mental attitude.  After all, the mind will quit a thousand times before the body will break.  Fatigue can play games with your mind. It is only those with an indomitable spirit that push through that barrier and persevere to reach the summit.

Push Ups Black Belt Test

The physical requirements for the test are intense.  We begin with push ups and sit ups.  This extreme physical exertion at the beginning of the test resets the mind and pushes nervous energy aside.

Kick at Black Belt Test

Our students are tested on their knowledge of hand techniques, kicks, 1 step sparring, take downs, forms, board breaking, and sparring.

1 Step Sparring

The Black Belt test runs for about 4 hours.  The final portion of the test is 10 – 2 minute rounds of sparring with a fresh black belt.  This is no easy feat.  After 3 1/2 hours of pushing their bodies to the limits, the sparring is where you really see what your made of.

Sparring at SMA

Sparring at SMA

A tremendous amount of drive, determination and personal fortitude is required to push through 10 consecutive rounds of sparring.  Both these gentlemen gave it everything they had.  They embody what it means to be a TRUE martial artist.

Sparring

At the end of the test, the Board meets to discuss the outcome.  It was the unanimous decision of that Board to promote both students.  On this day, Mr. William Chernichen was promoted to 2nd Dan and Mr. Florian Bernardo was promoted to 1st Dan.

Stand Before the Board

One of the members of our Board commented “This is a True BLACK BELT test. Mr Bernardo and Mr Chernichen truly deserves their rank. Very Honored be be part of it. My utmost respect to Master Shane Morris and thank you for bringing the true Martial Arts back.”  

Black Belts

It was an amazing day.  Congratulations to both our students on their promotions.  All your hard work and dedication paid off.  Remember:  A Black Belt is a white belt that never gave up.  So very true.

Black Belt Test

How to stay motivated!

Black Belt JourneyMotivation simply defined is “a force or influence that causes someone to do something.”  Motivation is at the foundation of any accomplishment – in sports, in your career, in your personal life.  Desire and determination are key elements to achieving the goals you set out for yourself.  But, what drives you during the down times?  To become the best that you can be, you must remain motivated and do what ever it takes to reach your goals. Here are a few tips on how to stay motivated:

1. Set realistic goals – write them down, share them with your instructor, commit 100% to the process

Earn it

2. Reward yourself at milestones – celebrate with friends and family, go out for dinner, have a get together, share your success with others.

work hard

3. Have an accountability buddy – having someone there to talk to goes a long way in keeping you motivated.  Feeling accountable to someone will help you stay on track for the long haul.

Surround Yourself

4. Have a plan to work through plateaus and slumps – shake up your routine, sometimes small changes can push you through – like getting a new uniform or trying some new gloves.SMA Polar Fleece

5. Visualize your achievement – picture your dream coming true, imagine how you will feel wrapping that black belt around your waist……….all the blood, sweat and tears……….TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!   Remember the is tremendous power in positive thinking.

Inhale Confidence

6.  Reinforce your training values – remember why you started, write down the reasons why you are doing this, what it means to you to achieve this goal, choose to stay committed, to stay dedicated, not because you have to but because you WANT to!

Martial Arts Motivation

The power is in your hands – it’s up to you!  Whatever your motivations, your instructor/trainer/coach will show you the path but they cannot walk the road for you. Life will sometimes get in the way, work, kids, travel, you can get sick, or injured. Missing a class or two is not the end of the world.  Life will throw you MANY excuses NOT to train, it’s up to you to make it work.  You CAN do it!!!

20 years

A Black Belt Story: Grand Master Michael Clark – 8th Dan

For those new to our organization, Grand Master Clark is Master Morris‘ long time instructor and the head of the Martial Virtue Alliance. The Martial Virtue Alliance was established in May of 2011 during a meeting of 26 like minded Black Belts from Canada and the USA.  The founding members of our organization are all associated by the teachings of Grand Master Michael Clark.  Grand Master Clark has been teaching Moo Duk Kwan Tae Kwon Do for 40 years.  His teaching philosophy is that of simple yet effective martial arts.  Grand Master Clark guides the curriculum and standards upheld by the schools in the MVA.  He adheres to the traditional methods of teaching maintaining the integrity of the art, respecting its traditions, martial arts etiquette, and ethics.

This is his story:

Grand Master Michael Clark began his martial arts training during his tour in Vietnam at the age of 20. He was stationed at DaNang Air Base on the DMZ of North and South Vietnam.

Danang Air Base

He attended training 6 days a week, 4 hours per day for 10 months with the Korean Masters.  The training was gruelling and brutal in its methods.

7 Tiger Divison Martial Arts demonstration

At the end of the 10 months, Grand Master Clark made his 1st attempt to earn his black belt.  The test was to be 4 hours long with the fighting at the end.  To earn the coveted black belt, Grand Master Clark needed to knock out his challenger and physically remove his opponents black belt.  This was no easy feat.  His 1st attempt, he was knocked unconscious in the first minute of fighting.  He failed the test.  Over the next 6 weeks, Grand Master Clark tested 3 more times – all with the same outcome – failure.  He had one last and final attempt before being shipped home to the USA.  Grand Master Clark made a decision to NEVER be knocked down again.  On his 5th and final attempt, Grand Master Clark did what he set out to accomplish.  At age 21, he was able to knock out his opponent and removed his belt. Grand Master Clark had earned his black belt.

Black Belt

In 1973, Grand Master Clark returned to the United States and started the first martial arts school on the Pease Air Force Base.  The school grew from 35 students to 125 within the first few months.  He remained there until his discharge from the military in 1975.

Pease Air Force Base

After the military, Grand Master Clark moved to Massachusetts started a family, worked for the US Postal Service and continued to train at a Kenpo Martial Arts school.  For the next 24 years, Grand Master Clark would train and teach future generations of martial artists.

Grand Master Clark believes strongly in adherence to traditional Tae Kwon Do practice.  This tradition is at the very core of martial arts and should not be forgotten. Over the years, he has had the honour to meet and train with many martial artists. Grand Master Clark holds all his black belts to the highest standards and is proud of all they have accomplished. Grand Master Clark is passionate about passing on his extensive knowledge and expertise to the members of our organization and looks forward to being involved in the Martial Virtue Alliance for years to come.

Grand Master Michael Clark – 8th Dan

A Black Belt Story: Master Shane Morris – 6th Dan

The road to black belt is a unique and personal journey.  If you ever have the opportunity to talk to black belts about their experience, you will not regret the time spent listening.  The stories are ones of giving it 110%, sheer force of will, against all odds, never accepting defeat, digging deep and giving it your ALL.

Black Belt

No matter where you are or what your station in life, if you want something bad enough, you are wiling to do whatever it takes to get there.  Master Morris was determined to get his black belt – there was simply no other option.

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The Morris’ moved to New Brunswick after a harsh economic downturn in Manitoba forced the family to relocate.  At age 14, Master Morris found a school in Woodstock, NB where he continued his training in a new style – Moo Duk Kwan Tae Kwon Do.  Master Morris went to class 2 days a week and practiced at home on his off days.  Once a month, he would travel to Maine for additional training with Grand Master Clark.
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Times were tough – the family was living in a trailer while their house was being built. Space was limited. There was no basement to practice in so Master Morris took his training outside.  Out there on the lawn, Master Morris spent hours working on his kicks and perfecting his forms.

There was no money for fancy equipment so Master Morris filled the bottom of a burlap potato sack with sand, filled the rest with rags and fashioned it to a 2 x 4 on the side of a shed.  This would be his training partner for the next 2 years.

Hard Work

Master Morris knew what was expected at the black belt test.  This test was not for the faint of heart, he was faced with a 4 hour gruelling test of the mind and the body. Every part of the body would be pushed to the limit.  So he trained harder.

Every night, Master Morris ran.  He knew he would need to be in the best shape of his life to endure the test.  And, every night before bed Master Morris did 2 sets of 100 push ups and 100 crunches in preparation for his black belt test.

It will hurt

Finally, the big day was here.  Had all his hard work and dedication paid off? Master Morris was nervous.

On Saturday, May 23, 1992, Master Morris travelled to Bangor, Maine to test for his black belt.  He recalls there was 1 water break, that’s it!  (How times have changed!!)  After hours of pushing his body to the absolute limits, the test was over.  The students were bowed out and told…….”see you at dinner”.  At the time, the board met to determine if the students had met the criteria for black belt.  Having no idea if he had passed or failed, Master Morris spent a few hours wondering if he had done all he could?  At dinner, the board went over the test results.  Students were told to eat something.  Master Morris remembers being so nervous that he could not eat a thing.  Finally, the wait was over!!  The 3 students that tested that day were all promoted to black belt.  On the drive home, Master Morris held on to his black belt and did not let go.  He had done it.

Master Morris - Black Belt

For the last 23 years, Master Morris has remained dedicated to the art of Tae Kwon Do.  He continues to hone his skills as a martial artist and trains with his students during every class.  When asked what it means to be a black belt, Master Morris replied:

“A Black Belt is ultimately a symbol of the type of person you are.  It is a symbol of all the hard work and dedication you have put in to the martial arts.  It is recognition of the discipline you have shown to go the distance.  A recognition that you have persevered through all the mental and physical challenges.  A recognition that you are committed to the perfection of the art. You are a warrior, you have displayed courage, you have conquered, you are an indomitable spirit.”

Master Morris - Summit Martial Arts

The importance of goal setting – what are YOUR goals for 2015?

You don’t need to wait for January 1 to set goals for yourself.  Goal setting is about finding what’s important to you and figuring out a way to attain those goals.  It is crucial that your goals are something YOU want to do, not just something that sounds good to others.  The process of goal setting helps you understand where you are and where you want to go – it also helps keep you motivated.  Here are some tips for setting goals for yourself:

1) Choose a goal or 2.  Be specific. For example, “lose weight” or “get my black belt” are too vague.  You want to be crystal clear in your intention – “lose 25 lbs” or “get my black belt by XXXX year”.  Try to find a middle ground between aiming too high and underestimating your abilities. It is important to understand why you are doing what you are doing.  What will accomplishing this goal mean to you?

2) Write your goals down.  Be as specific as possible, include a timeline for achieving your goals.  Be realistic – getting your black belt in a year is not an attainable goal. Write your goals in a positive tone – positive thinking goes a long way in helping you achieve the goals.  Keep a journal of your progress.

Interest and Committment

3) Make your goals measurable.  For example, if you goal is to lose 25 lbs, you want to set a specific measure to lose 1 lb per week.  Tracking your progress in these little increments provides you with small victories.  These positive steps build momentum, boost your confidence and help you to keep motivated and on target to reach your goal.

4) Create an action plan – make it happen.  This is vital to achieving your goals.  “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.  Decide when you are going to put your plan in to action, include details and timing of your plan, make milestones to help you achieve the goal on time.

5) Review your goals often.  Go back to your journal, make sure that this goal is really what you want to do.  Recognize and celebrate your success.  Adapt your plan if necessary, just make sure to keep to your main objective.

6) Stick to the plan, but stay flexible.  This will be the biggest challenge.  Life sometimes throws you in a direction you were not expecting.  This is where you will see how much your goal means to you – if it is important, you will find a way to make it work despite the change in circumstance.  Don’t let distractions lead you down the road to procrastination.  Go back, read why you are doing this, keep motivated!

7) Share your goals and find an accountability friend.  Be brave, share your goals with a friend, family member, or instructor.  As you go through the process, ask for feedback and reward yourself for milestones in your journey.  For example, if you achieve the next belt on your way to black belt – reward yourself with a special dinner or a new uniform/bo staff/punch mitts.  Having someone to help you stay accountable for your goals is priceless!

The bottom line is goal setting has powerful and lasting effects on your life and your well being.  The power is in your hands – the sky is the limit!  You can accomplish anything you put your mind to!!  Be BOLD!  Be AMAZING!!