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

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!!

How to prepare for your next belt test

Summit Martial Arts Logo

Belt tests at Summit Martial Arts are an honoured right of passage.  Our belt tests are NOT easy.  It is not enough to simply show up, you must EARN your belt.  We adhere to a generations old, rigorous standard for our belt promotions. Students are expected to show physical endurance, technical skills and mental fortitude.  Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your next belt test:

1) Make sure you have your written belt test curriculum.  If you do not have one, please ask Master or Mrs. Morris for the appropriate belt level sheet. These forms are for you to keep, you can check off all the items as you master them.

2) Practice at home!  Practicing at home can make a big difference in the mastery of your forms, hand techniques, kicks and 1 step sparring.

3) Work on your physical endurance at home.  An easy way to ensure you are ready for the push up and sit up requirement is to practice in smaller chunks.  If you are watching television, do sets of push ups/sit ups during the commercials.  As you all know, the requirement gets bigger and bigger for every belt level.  How many is for black belt again?  🙂

Summit Martial Arts Push Ups

4) Talk with Master Morris about areas that need improvement.  Master Morris is always available before/after class to discuss your progress and what you need to work on.

5) Work toward earning ALL 4 of your skill stripes.  We have no set day/time for a skill stripe test.  If you feel you are ready, ask Master Morris to look at your forms before/after class.

6) Make sure to attend EVERY practice.  The easiest way to ensure your progression through the ranks is to come to class regularly.  It is that simple. The more you come to class, the more you learn, the more you get to practice.

Summit Martial Arts Class

7) Be sure to have a positive mental attitude.  Attitude can determine success or failure.  If you believe in yourself, you are capable of doing anything you set your mind to.  The power is in YOUR hands. Black Belt

A student must receive an invitation to grade for their next belt.  Each student’s journey is unique – the time it takes to progress can be different for everyone.  We are dedicated to seeing you be successful in your martial arts journey.  Train hard and never give up!

How to choose the BEST Martial Arts School for YOU!

How do you choose?  Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Hapkido, Jui Jitsu……it can all be a little overwhelming.  There is certainly no lack of martial arts schools out there.  If you are in a big city, there is literally one on every corner.  However, not all martial arts schools are created equal.  It is important to do your research before committing to any school.  You’ll be happy you did.  This is especially true when children are involved.  Choosing the wrong school can turn the child off the sport forever.  With that said, there are many reputable schools out there that practice what they preach and have an excellent program in place.  Here are a few tips when looking for a martial arts school.

1) Decide what you would like to gain from learning martial arts.  Are you to improve your physical fitness?  To learn Self Defence?  Would ySummit Martial Arts Sparringou like to compete in Tournaments? Are you interested in the philosophy/character building part of martial arts?  Or go the long haul and get your black belt? These are all important considerations when deciding on a school. Writing down your goals can help you tremendously when searching for the right school.  When you call/email for information, have these ideas in mind and ask questions.  It is important to know this up front before committing.

2) Shop Around.  Look at a number of different schools in your area, if possible.  If the school offers a free trial class, Interest and Committmentgo check it out.  Was it fun and enjoyable for you? Also, check out reviews online.  What are people saying about the school?  Do they participate in social media – check out their pages.  The school that most closely aligns with your goals and values is your best bet.

3)  Find a qualified instructor.  Take the time to read about this person’s credentials.  Ask questions:  how long have they been teaching?  How long have they trained in the martial arts?  How often does the head instructor teach? Just because the head instructor is an accomplished martial artist themselves, it does not mean they are a good teacher.  A great instructor takes time to explain why and how the techniques they are teaching are important.  Moreover, how those techniques can be applied in real life situations.   One key point is to make sure the instructors correct improper technique.  This is especially true in the case of children.  If you are going to pay for someone to teach you, make sure they teach you right the first time.  Sometimes paying a little more or driving 5 minutes longer are worth it.  You come away being a better and more well rounded martial artist.  Quality instruction is worth it.

allow yourself

4)  Goal Setting.  A good instructor invests in YOU and is interested in YOUR goals.
Watch a class, is the instructor motivating?  Or preaching? Sit down, talk about your goals, ask questions.  Find out if they have a written curriculum. You deserve the best instruction available.

5)  Some final things to consider:  take a look at class size – is the class size capped? what is the student to teacher ratio?  Do they use student assistants?  Do they have age appropriate classes?  Take a look at the students in the class.  Are there a number of intermediate and high ranking belts?  This may indicate that the school motivates students to stay. If the students are all beginners, that may say something too. Or are there an unusually high number of black belts?  This could speak volumes about the program.

These are some general tips on how to choose the BEST school for you and your family.  The RIGHT school is out there – do your research, be diligent, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  It’s your money.  It’s your time and effort.  You deserve to get the most out of your martial arts education.  It’s a great sport for the entire family.