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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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