Each academy has their different processes of belt testings. At NG each newly awarded black belt spends one week or more immediately afterwards without our belt until a scheduled “black tie” event where we tie our belt (on ourselves) for the first time in front of the academy, friends and family. Each time our new black belt trains before the actual ceremony we have no belt to tie, and are reminded of our 3 Rs of meditation. We ask our new black belts to meditate on REFLECTION, REALIZATION and RESPONSIBILITY.


To reflect on our journey to this huge milestone. No one gets to black belt without major changes in our lives, sacrifices by ourselves and those around us. To look back to training partners, family and friends that have been beside us, during the entire journey or for just a leg of it. Those that passed some meaningful words to us when we were down. Our mentors and those we took under our wing along the way. How many jobs or relationships came and went while we pressed on. How old were we and those around us when we started? Where are they now? Who has passed away or newly entered our life? To put ourselves back into these earlier eras, to relive them, to feel and think again what we felt and thought then, to relearn the lessons with our more evolved mind today.


Most of us look forward to this milestone and new beginning, consciously or otherwise. Some have the image etched in their mind, beginning as white belt or picked up along the way. For others it sneaks up on us while we we’re buried in the day to day, year to year. The image of the milestone is different for everyone and it changes along the journey to the big day, as we change as people. We make it here along infinitely unique paths, and we ask ourselves during this time to realize this is exactly what it is at this moment, not the many ways it’s idea has changed before, and not as it will change for us in the future. Realize we are a black belt as is, and are entering our new season of growth.


From our own perspective as the new black belt, nothing changes technically or philosophically between the day before, day of, or day after receiving it. But within our new world, everything is given a megaphone. Our words reach farther and hang heavier. They get passed on in more directions, get misinterpreted and twisted as translated ear to ear. As our words are parroted, our actions are mimicked. All eyes are on us. We have a responsibility to tighten our thoughts, words, and actions knowing that no black belt can fart without someone smelling it. The physically simple and short process of removing the old belt and tying on the new black belt reveals itself to carry this hidden philosophical weight.

We’ve earned this belt and it’s new responsibility, we got this. The opportunity to wield the weight of this new responsibility is the opportunity to help like never before, to contribute more deeply to our team, and beyond our immediate teammates. Also to any teammates of theirs, presently or in the future, and by extension their families and support networks. We wear a badge of “how can i help?” It’s our responsibility, and our honor.