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Black Belt Essays

Black Belt Essays

What Martial Arts Means To Me

By Angela Lefante
Senior Instructor

Martial Arts has taught me to become a better person and has given me the discipline and confidence to accomplish any goals, both physically and mentally.

When I began at Cobra I wanted to develop a strong mind and as everyone knows achieving a black belt is the symbol of that, if you put your mind to a task and accomplish it. However it wasn't just the black belt that I wanted to attain, it was the achievement of developing my strength of character.

Traditional virtues such as courtesy, integrity, humility and self control are not commonly taught in our present society. We are encouraged to be self indulgent, selfish and self orientated above all else to achieve personal gain, otherwise we can be perceived as being weak or unsuccessful.

I know that the mental side of training far outweighs the physical training because it is the driving force behind my skills, I can do everything technically and physically that I do because I believe that I can.

Martial Arts requires concentration, self belief and focus to achieve the goals that appear unachievable, through self discipline, patience and understanding that it takes only one step at a time.

So what does Martial Arts mean to me today?

Being a martial artist is to be an ordinary person that tries harder despite personal fears and doubts, not just existing but participating in something that is bigger than the individual. It is how you conduct and improve yourself through personal difficulties and challenges that determine your character.

"I personally feel that anything you can do in your pyjamas has to be a good thing."

What Martial Arts Means To Me

By Adam Lippitt
Senior Instructor

Getting in to martial arts was an idea put to me by a friend who thought I would need it because I was going out a lot in Perth.

I had know idea what style I wanted to do or where I was going to train but my plan was to train for about 18 months so I could "Handle myself in Night Clubs"

One day I was driving past Cobra and decided I would give it ago to see if I liked it.

In November this year it will be 10 years since I walked through the door and even though it did not change my life over night as my friend said it would it had a very positive affect on me.

Learning to punch, kick, throw and defend against weapons was great and I found myself training more than the required two lessons a week. But what changed things for me the most was the day I got a call from Sensei asking if I could run a class that night because an instructor had called in sick. The first time I took a class by myself made me realise that martial arts was a lot more than just fighting and that being entrusted to pass on our art was an honour and privilege that all students should at least try even if it is something you can't commit to long term.

My journey to black belt and beyond has had many peaks and valleys and at one point I even quit after my 2nd Dan and tried other schools but I could never find what I have at Cobra.

I will be continuing my journey for as long as my body can take it, but even when I can no longer train I will know that Cobra did change me for the better and I got a lot more out of it than being able to handle myself in night clubs.

What Martial Arts Means To Me

By Ryan Nicholls
Senior Instructor

When I was much younger, long before I had started any of my martial arts training, the martial arts were all about power, strength, determination, resilience and a greater awareness of the universe and all it holds. It was the lure of the seemingly unattainable - achieving all that the human body was capable of and becoming something almost mystical in nature in the process.

The martial arts, like most things to me, became a pursuit for perfection. It became the joy and exhilaration in performing the perfect axe kick, the perfect mid block, the perfect shoulder throw or the perfect wrist lock. It became the drive to do things no-one else I know can do, and I quickly developed a fighting style that is quintessentially me.

But at some point in time I realised that a goal is only a moment in time, a brief and short lived emotion that ultimately fades. It becomes a memory of a time and a place; a marker or sign post on a longer journey. And this is where the martial arts mirrors life - life is a journey marked by events - some good, some bad - but all contribute to the experience that is Life. For when looking at Life what is the goal? Life always ends at some point and all we have is the memories and experiences of the journey, so why focus on the endpoint? The martial arts is no different - it is my realisation within the martial arts that a black belt or 2nd or 3rd Dan is just a marker, a single moment in a larger journey. The importance to me is that I have enjoyed the journey so far, that I have experienced so much and learnt a great deal about myself in the process.

For almost half my life now the martial arts have become the mainstay of my existence. Martial arts is the rock I lean on when things go wrong, an old friend I turn to that always provides solace in times of distress. It is what I do when I'm happy, when I'm excited, when in Love and out, when sad, emotional, angry or depressed. Martial arts is the joy in my smile, the strength in my heart, and the fire in my eyes. It is as much a part of me as the blood that pumps through my heart, and to me, is just as essential.

My childhood vision of the martial arts though stylised and shaped by pop culture was not far off the mark. But martial arts was never about obtaining power, strength, determination, resilience and a greater understanding of the universe - it was the journey to realise that I always had them. These are not aspects of the martial arts that have been brought to the man; these are aspects of the man distilled into my martial arts.

Ultimately, martial arts to me are the discovery of that man.

What Martial Arts Means To Me

By Scott Thackrah

The Martial arts came to me through many avenues throughout my life. Television, movies, books and culture referenced what was to me something mystical and complex. Like life however, the Martial Arts are ironic. Once I began to learn, I saw that it was not mystical and complex at all - but simplistic and before my very eyes.

Over four years ago I walked through the door of this Dojo. Though I did not know it then, it was the beginning of a journey towards finding the self. This journey contained many hills and valleys, but perseverance and dedication has seen me through to make me who I am today.

My training has given me the ability to set and reach goals in my work and life in general. I have also gained self-confidence. Self respect and respect for others has taken a deeper and stronger meaning in my life, and through instructing I have found humility. Traditional values of courtesy, integrity and self-control have strongly been instilled in me from my Martial Arts training.

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by people whom have inspired me to train harder and smarter. From many walks of life, students and instructors have all taught me something, for we are all equal here.

So what does Martial Arts mean to me? Martial arts was never about fighting, but learning how to live my life, to live honestly with oneself, and to gain satisfaction from every breath.

What Martial Arts Means To Me

By Moya Longbottom
Assistant Instructor

I never could have imagined, when I first walked through the door of Cobra in February 2005, just how important Martial Arts would become in my life.

I joined the programme as a way of getting fit without having to wear a purple sparkly leotard and also to learn some self defence. Initially I found everything about martial arts extremely difficult. As Mr Wilkes will agree, I had a lot of trouble sorting out left from right. For the first 12 months I felt sick in the stomach coming to every lesson – I just didn't seem to "get it". Then one day it all suddenly made sense, and that was such a boost to my confidence that from then on I really enjoyed the classes and coming to training.

When we first started as white belts, I was so far out of my comfort zone that I didn't give any thought to attaining black belt level. For months I was still figuring out jab and cross. As my skills and confidence increased and I started moving up the belt levels, I began to think about the possibility of joining the black belt ranks. Even fracturing my leg didn't put me off once I became determined to train towards that goal. I am very grateful to Sensei and all the Instructors for their patience and willingness to answer my many, many questions about techniques and for putting up with me complaining about sparring!

But the real reason I am so very glad that I discovered Cobra has nothing to do with achieving a black belt.

My husband Keith had been fighting a battle with cancer since October 2004 and during most of my first 3 years here at Cobra he was extremely ill. Everyone here - Sensei, all the instructors, particularly Mr Wilkes, and especially my training partners Donna and Leah, supported us both through his very difficult journey. Over the last 18 months, coming to Cobra has been what has kept me going every day, and training for my black belt has given my life a focus.

I have only one regret, and it is that Keith did not live to see me achieve my black belt. He would have been very proud.

What Martial Arts Means To Me

By Benny Sullivan

Martial Arts by definition is the use of physical skill as a means of self-defence or combat, however I believe a greater meaning exists. My interpretation of martial arts involves three broad realms; the physical, the mental, and the social. These realms evoke self-improvement that resonates beyond the dojo.

Martial arts has improved my physical capabilities. To achieve black belt is a difficult task that seems physically overwhelming at first glance, however the gradual physical amelioration that occurs with each progressive belt grading breaks this task down into small, achievable steps. Cobra Martial Arts has shown me that I can always push passed my perceived physical boundaries; no physical challenge is insurmountable with adequate preparation.

Martial Arts includes a psychological realm in its definition. Cobra Martial Arts improved my self-perception. My confidence in my abilities has improved, and my sense of self-efficacy and empowerment seem to rise perpetually. These great benefits helped throughout my journey to black belt, and have also improved my approach to life outside the dojo; my self-perception and outlook on life has dramatically improved.

The final broad component is the social realm. Martial Arts has been a fantastic medium for learning new skills with a great group of people. Throughout my journey to black belt I have been surrounded by training partners and instructors who are all extremely dedicated and committed to the Arts. Their focus and determination radiates, serving as motivation for myself, and I thank them for this. My journey to black belt has created a close friendship with many people, and I intend to continue my friendship, physical development and personal improvement with these people.

If I were to summarise Martial Arts in one sentence, I would adapt from the nine tenants; "sound body, sound mind, sound spirit, self-mastery". It is thanks to Sensei and his willingness to teach the art of Cobra Martial Arts that I and an infinite number of people may enjoy better health and a better quality of life.