Duties and Responsibilities

Black Belt Duties and Responsibilities

Styles are nothing more than a body of knowledge residing within a select cadre of Black Belts. Black Belts embody the entire system, preserving what came before for those who follow. Most systems will be gone by next generation. Whether you recognize it or not, we all compete with the past, and with tradition. Little of our time or energy is spent preserving what came before, or coming to the deepest possible understanding of what it meant. It is human nature to scratch the surface a thousand times over, and to ask another for the secret of what lies below. The world is full of people with opinions and big ideas and giant ambitions, and to an extent, we recognize and respect those energies. In the alternative there are others, barely visible, who show up on time, are approachable, consistent, informed, reliable, and dedicated. They are rare! In the mathematics of reality, it takes 100 of the former to equal one of the latter.

A Black Belt is bound by unwritten oath to become intimately familiar with all he or she has been taught, knowing what it means, committing it absolutely to memory, then exploring every conceivable nuance, nook, cranny, and quarter. Whenever your knowledge fails, or you pause or hesitate in your recollection, you’re no longer acting like water, but have become a brick, dead in your footsteps, unable to move, empty of content. Your knowledge within should be the same as fingers and toes, breath and heartbeat. You know exactly where they’re at, and how they’re performing all times. If your knowledge is anything less, then question whether you are at the same level as your teacher, or are functioning as a poor reflection. Within a system, all Black Belts should assume tomorrow all other Black Belts will be gone. Everything depends on you! Will you pass the test? If not, what remains day after tomorrow?

The primary role of a Black Belt is to teach. Ideally, the new Black Belt will teach class in a Dojo of his or her own. In the real world, this is not always possible. Alternatively, it is acceptable to undertake a class at a community center or health and recreation club, or other like venue. If that too is not possible, or if you are not able to run a class, then assume the role of Coach .

As Coach the Black Belt undertakes to function as a full-fledged teacher, but within the context of another’s class. Technically, this would be the position of Assistant Instructor. Assistant instructor should never preempt the head instructor’s status. Assistant means just that, you are to serve the needs of the class by assisting the head instructor. The assistant instructor should never replace the head instructor, or compete for the attention of the class. It is his or her responsibility to assist and facilitate, not to impress everyone with their breadth of knowledge or expertise. There will be a tendency toward pomposity, don’t go there, everyone but you can see what’s really going on. Just teach, help, encourage, share, and fight to maintain your humility all the while. Function as a catalyst, bridging the gaps between the head instructor’s teaching, and the class’s learning.

If the role of assistant instructor is not feasible (it may already be taken), a new Black Belt should look for opportunities to function as tutor to underling ranks. Identify someone with a problem or issue, take them under your wing, and fix it. This might mean scheduling to meet the person on a regular basis for a period of time. Or it may mean a permanent arrangement between yourself and several students, meeting on a regular basis, indefinitely.

Finally, the Black Belt is personally responsible for maintaining and protecting the integrity of the system. That means each and every Black Belt should know the entire system, and the identity of every other Black Belt. That includes knowing their for certain, current contact information. And you should make sure they have yours too.  It also means every Black Belt should have a full list, with full current contact information for each and every member of the entire organization. It also means each and every Black Belt should have the full and complete information regarding rank, status of promotion, and potential for advancement for each and every member of the organization. At any point in time, if all Black Belts but one within the organization came to their untimely end, the remaining Black Belt should be able to reconstruct the entire system ensuring continuity into the future.

What you have received is the same as a sacred jewel, entrusted to your care. You have been asked to protect it for a period of time, and then deliver it to the next generation. Are you up to the task?

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