A Letter To The Board Of Examiners

By Tim Hitchcock
Published on Nov 14th, 2013

There is a degree of misconception about being a black belt, not necessarily a Kenpo black belt, but a black belt in any system. You don’t get super powers or more wisdom or strength. All you have are your knowledge and experiences from your life and training. Some systems you can get a black belt in a couple years, others it takes four or ten. Whatever the amount of time it takes, all you have are the experiences you were able to learn from. The point is that it doesn’t matter what color you wear, what matters is the knowledge you’ve obtained and how you share it.

It sometimes comes up with people that I train in Kenpo. Usually the first thing they ask is, “Are you a black belt?” My answer was, “Well no, I’m not yet, but does that even matter?” I’ve observed that there are people that should have black belts that don’t, and some others that do, who perhaps, shouldn’t. Black belt seems to mean different things to different people. To some it’s a thing to be tested. To others it makes you a bad ass, or an instructor, etc. To me, it means leadership, commitment, and a certain attitude. You become a leader. As you progress through the ranks it is taken as an indicator as to your level of knowledge and there is always someone of lower rank looking to you as an example. It takes commitment to attain this level. I’ve been actively training for approximately 10 years and an additional 6 inactive years. Kenpo has been a part of me for 16 years.
So with countless distractions, but with commitment to work, I’ve made it to this plateau in training.
Being a good black belt doesn’t necessarily mean always having an answer but it does mean having a willingness to help or to find an answer for those that need help or guidance. Care should be taken not to abuse or shrug off subordinates because even though you don’t have all the answers you can still be an unwavering source of stability and be able to offer a helping hand when it’s needed whether it’s with kenpo or with other outside situations or problems.
Receiving my black belt means a lot to me. I’ve been training a long time and it feels really good to wear the color. It means so much. Each rank has sayings and creeds that have to be memorized and the theme of so many of them is to be humble and to protect the weak and the oppressed. It means using your skill and knowledge for good. It means helping others. In all the years I’ve been doing this I’ve never had to use my skills in a street situation. If I can avoid it I never plan to. I like to hit people not hurt them. Black belt is the apex of being able to help people. So many people come to us as beginners looking for instruction and guidance in more than just self-defense. All we can do is share what we know and offer a path, then hope that they walk it. It’s also the color of an expert. Anyone who is an expert has to be able to share what they know either through using skill at a profession and/or by sharing these skills through teaching.
With the color black, also comes a greater sense of camaraderie with other black belts. They have faced the same challenges you have. In our system and school, it’s a bit of a lonely rank because there are so few that wear the color that remain in the school.
I am honored to have received this rank from my peers and my plan now is to continue to honor them by continuing my training to become more proficient at my art and to share my knowledge with those that seek it. I have every intention of wearing my black belt with honor and integrity. I’ve always had a “lead by example style”. I plan to continue to set a good example to those looking for one in me. One other thing I’d like to add in this time of change in leadership in our school is that I don’t consider myself the student of any single instructor as I have learned from all of you. I am a student of Missoula American Kenpo Karate and I would like to honor you all. Thank you.

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Tim Hitchcock

Tim Hitchcock is a 25 year old golf turf professional and is an assistant superintendent at a local golf course in Missoula Montana. He’s been employed there for 8 years. He considers himself quite fortunate to have landed a job in his chosen field immediately after finishing school. Tim enjoys his profession’s variety; requiring an eye for artistic design, a sensitivity to the changing seasons and with enough manual labor to help keep him in shape without being so exhausting that he can’t train regularly.

Tim Hitchcock has been interested in martial arts for as long as he can remember. He talks about strong images of watching Walker Texas Ranger and doing flying side kicks off of his parent’s furniture. His father’s second hand store happened to be next door to Missoula American Kenpo Karate. Tim’s Sibok ,Chris Crews, and his father got along well, so naturally, Tim, at 8 years old, put on a white belt and Kenpo has been a part of him ever since. Tim says, “Training there over the years has been unforgettable. It’s been like having a second family. “The biggest lesson I’ve taken away from Kenpo is --- no matter what it is you need to get done --- don’t quit! Even if it gets hard you never quit, you’ll get it done. That lesson of perseverance has carried over to other facets of Tim’s life such as school, work, distance running, bicycling, etc. Mr. Hitchcock received his 1st Degree Black Belt on September 28th, 2013.

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