To achieve a black belt in Hapkido requires many years of practice.  Practicing anything long term requires energy, passion and commitment.  But like anything else, our ability to perform a technique effectively will eventually decay – that’s why continued practice, even after achieving black belt is essential if we want to maintain and hopefully improve our abilities.

A famous pianist, Vladimir Horowitz, who performed well into his eighties once said, “If I skip practice for a day I notice.  If I skip practice for 2 days my wife notices.  If I skip for 3 days, the world notices.” (Coyle, 2009)

But what is it that motivates us to achieve greatness or simply to maintain a level of proficiency in something we enjoy?

I’m interested in motivation. In particular, what motivates us after we get our black belts? Most students understand that Hapkido is more than the physical, but that’s easy to say when the goal of black belt is still tempting you on. Personally I’ve learned more about myself after black belt, than I ever did before… to me Hapkido is something about confidence, about identity, and about reminding me to be an authentic version of myself…but I’ve also grown up with Hapkido so I wondered whether my experience was unique to me or is this something that others experience too.  A few weeks ago I asked the black belts at Chang’s Hapkido Academy about just that…

The responses have started coming in and they are a joy to read.  One black belt said, “Hapkido isn’t something that I do, it’s who I am” – I can really relate to his comment…

I’ll be collecting all the responses over the next few weeks and look forward to sharing some of my impressions and the overall themes in the coming months.  Click here for part two of this article.

Works Cited
Coyle, D. (2009). The Talent Code. New York: Bantam Dell Publishing Group.

Training beyond black belt (part one)

One thought on “Training beyond black belt (part one)

  • 9th January 2012 at 2:45 pm


    Great post. Training after my Hapkido black belt was/is very difficult for me, because soon after I received it from Master Chang, our school in Florida was closed. I still sometimes train with my instructor, Tim Backus, but it isn’t the same. I miss Master Chang’s seminars and wisdom. It was a great atmosphere and I can’t find it anywhwere else.

    I’ve been training in martial arts for thirty years and have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do as well and extensive triaining in reality based combat scenarios. But, I’ve always felt grounded and had a real sense of belonging and purpose in Chang’s Hapkido Academy.

    I still train and practice my techniques. Thanks Tammy.

    Rob Wilson


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