I'm aware that a black belt is an arbitrary measurement that differs from organization to organization and dojo to dojo but, as my own shodan grading approaches (end of this year), I've been pondering what actually qualifies a black belt. After being exposed to so much through seminars, books, videos, etc, I've developed a bit of a cognitive dissonance, in which my expectations for what I think (or would hope) a black belt should be, are a potentially a lot higher than what my organization expects.
I've some small confidence that I can grade if I just follow the usual advice, polish my kata, remember the standard bunkai, work on my cardio. However I'm not sure that after all that, if I will still feel qualified to wear a black belt. Yes, if I met the qualifications I'm literally qualified but, I'm not sure if that is enough to satisfy me.
I like to think my dojo is practically minded but, most of the time we're trapped in the orthodox of contemporary Karate which means we don't spend a whole lot of time practicing "practical" self-defence/fighting skills (though we do spend some time on them), and a decent number of our bunkai are not something I'd call upon without some (or a lot of) modification. Overall this means that a lot of the 'extra' skills I expect: adept in standing grappling/clinching and throwing/takedowns from those positions, ability to close the distance and fight in close, ability to draw practical applications from kata, adept at footwork for maneuvering around opponents, to name a few, aren't really drilled, at least to the point where I can say I'm competent in any of these things.
After reflecting upon this I'm definitely going to be more proactive in trying to develop these skills from now own and I might approach my instructors to see if we can work a bit more of some of these things into our training. I'm also looking to try find some people to train with outside of this club so I can log more hours working the skills we don't touch in the dojo.
Hopefully if all goes well I might be able to become a bit more 'qualified' in time for my dan grading.
Has anyone encountered this? What solutions did you come up with?
If anyone has relevant advice, or anything else to share, I'd love to read it.