Dear Black Belts,
As I prepare for tonight's Black Belt Testing, I am flooded with emotion and pride for all of you. Every testing cycle is hard on all of us, and it has its way of bringing out either the winner in us or the quitter. This particular testing was extremely stressful on me because two months ago 95% of you were not ready. It would be different and easy if I had lowered our standards of excellence over the years and gave in to the modern belt factory mentality, but this is my PASSION! Quitting to me is not trying to conquer a goal or an obstacle when it comes our way. As I have taught all of you, there is no shame or defeat in trying your hardest and failing. The victory always lives in the effort, the sacrifice, and the willingness to take the risk.
Allow me to bring this idea into focus and relate it to our Black Belt test. If you were one of the students who found out two months ago that you were eligible to test for your next rank and never tried to achieve it, that is something we have to work on together and help you conquer any fears, doubts, and belief in yourself. We can do this together! If you are someone who found out they were eligible to test and worked extremely hard toward it but came up short, there is absolutely no defeat whatsoever. You are simply that much more prepared for the next opportunity and no one can ever take that away from you.
Getting back to my statement that 95% of you were not ready. We REALLY worked hard over the last two months helping you get focused and detailed in your art. The sacrifice and commitment you displayed while attending all of the extra free classes that we offered to assist you, proved once again that HARD WORK pays off! If you received a testing notice from me it means that I firmly believe you are ready for the promotion and give you my blessings to pursue it. I have never, and will never set anyone up for failure, as it contradicts everything I stand for as a positive and inspirational people builder. During the last two classes I witnessed amazing progress. I witnessed a significant rise in your confidence. I witnessed a "I am worth it" mentality. And lastly, I witnessed all of you bonding together as a team and encouraging / assisting each other with relentless pursuit.
Most people will never understand the true significance of what this type of rank promotion represents in your life. Not all of us enjoy sparring, perhaps not the forms, or board breaking. No one enjoys learning the meaning and history that each form stands for. But one thing we all share in common is that we HAVE to test with all of those areas. We have to devote hours of our time pursuing excellence in areas that we aren't particularly good at or even enjoy. But we do it because it represents perseverance and dedication to a better you. A focused and disciplined version of you that many people may not know you are capable of. Like all of my speeches, I guess this was a long and winded way for me to tell you all how proud I am of you, and how honored I am to be your instructor and share tonight with you.
Shine bright tonight, and bring all that you are with every technique!
Wishing you the best,