Black Belt Testing Attitude

Upland Shotokan Karate League



“A black belt is nothing more than a belt that goes around your waist. Being a black belt is a state of mind and attitude.”

-–Rick English.


  • I’m OK if I don’t pass this time around because I’m not here for the belt, I’m here for what it takes to earn the belt.  

  • My test is not about the martial arts, it is about life. I am not seeking to be a great martial artist; I am seeking to be a great human being.

  • I earn my rank not from a day, weekend, or week of performing in front of my senseis and/or a panel of judges. I earn the rank by living, to the best of my ability, every day, for life. What I eat at my next meal, how I deal with the next challenge, conflict, or difficulty, how frequently I train and how I treat people in my sphere of influence, these are the things that determine my eligibility.

  • My test may be the hardest thing I have ever done -- and it may seem and feel almost impossible to complete. The harder the test, the more it shapes me as a person. Everything that is difficult for me IS my test.

  • I am a part of my team --even if the team doesn’t know it. How I treat the people I am testing with, under, and in front of, has more to do with my test than any other aspect of it.


“When one has no more energy but still punches and kicks, when one can hardly stand but still moves forward, when one has nothing left to remain upright but still remains standing, this is Budo.  In this context, when we train and we are totally exhausted, when there is nothing left physically and we reach into our inner self and we continue to endeavor, this is Karate.” 

-- Master Mas Oyama, Kyokushinkai

  • Rather than getting frustrated and quitting you must persevere.  Remember “the road to success is paved with setbacks and failure” and “A Black Belt is a White Belt who never quit.” 

  • Seven times down, eight times up

  • Accept constructive criticism in the manner which it is intended – as a learning tool to help you improve.  We are all on the same team and how you treat the people you are testing/training with, under, and training in front of, has more to do with your test than any other aspect of it.  



Every crisis creates opportunity; every struggle offers the chance to rediscover. Everything we do is born from the ability to see potential where others can’t.


The willingness to try, fail and learn on the journey toward creating something new is just as critical as the passion to succeed. There is no substitute for being willing to lead—especially when the territory being covered is new and the outcome is uncertain.


Meaningful change is not easy. It requires the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and face often daunting challenges. We have the persistence to do what it takes to achieve the results we seek.  We just have to want it bad enough.


is a key ingredient in a Black Belt’s attitude. Being casual, careless and sloppy in executing or performing a given technique or doing something halfway and considering it good enough; are not the hallmarks of a Black Belt.  A Black Belt cares about the results of all their actions and is aware that all actions represent themselves, their mentors, and teachers etc. that have coached us along the road of life. Honor them by making sure all our actions are performed with excellence.


Goals we set, Are Goals we get!

Believe it! -  Achieve it!

Habits we train are habits we gain!

Perfect practice - makes perfect!


“Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph: a beginning, a struggle, and a victory.”

-- Mahatma Gandhi


Self-discipline does not come easy; it's never free and cannot be bought.

It comes from within:
though heart & heart ache,
through hustle & endurance,
through hard work and sacrifice,
through control and focus.

It's staying as strong as possible for as long as possible to overcoming any obstacles, addictions and/or adversities that stand in your way.

Every worthwhile accomplishment has a price tag attached to it.
The question is…Are you willing to pay the price to obtain it?

Through hard work,
Through sacrifice,
Through heart and heart ache,
Through endurance,
and through self-discipline?

-- Gregg Miele

Rendition of Gichin Funakoshi founder of Shotokan karate, 1868-1957,

Painting by Sensei Mike Whiteside