When we start learning Taekwondo, we begin at white belt! The uniform is crisp and clean-sparkling clean! Our white belt is bright white! Every day is something new! A new kick or a new stance. The learning is so exciting!
Over time we progress through the colored belt levels. We learn new poomsaes. We learn hand techniques. We practice and test. And then practice and test some more. Eventually after years of practicing, we test for Black Belt! And when we pass our Black Belt exam, we have made it! We have finally made it! We are a Black Belt! Woo hoo!
Unfortunately many times when a student gets to Black Belt, they quit. This makes me very sad because they are missing out on the rewards of learning Taekwondo. They are missing out on putting all the pieces together. They are missing out on their Taekwondo practice becoming more purposeful and more meaningful. It is as if they believe that being a Black Belt is all there is to learning in Taekwondo! And that's too bad because it is at Black Belt that real Taekwondo learning begins! The years of colored belt practicing, testing and advancing are just Taekwondo foundation building. The real Taekwondo learning begins at Black Belt.
The first class I attended after passing my First Dan Black Belt exam, I lined up behind a long line of higher Black Belts. There were Fourth Dans (Masters) and Fifth Dans in the class! I looked at the higher Black Belts and I realized how much I did not know! I realized that I was just a young child in Taekwondo even though I was 40 years old! I was no longer an infant but still only a child in my Taekwondo learning. It was at this moment that I became very humble. The strutting I had been doing after passing my Black Belt ended forever.
After many years of training, I still have so much more to learn. I look forward to putting more pieces of the puzzle called Taekwondo together.
So,what is the answer to the question, "When Does Taekwondo Learning Stop?"
The answer is that the learning never stops, it continues for the rest of our lives.
Master James Thamm