As we enter the first belt testing period of 2019, let’s take a moment to address attributes versus skills.

Attributes are traits we are born with — like the color of our eyes or hair, or whether we are left or right handed. Skills are habits that have been ingrained in us over time through repeated and continual practice.

Sometimes, skills are mistaken for attributes. It’s been said that “often what appears natural started off very unnatural, and that person worked away at it over time.”

This made me think of our training in martial arts. Watching Master perform a basic foundational form like Ki Cho Hyung makes one realize that we all definitely “need more practice, Sir!” It can be easy to be intimidated when you are in the presense of greatness. Instead of being intimidated however, we should feel inspired, because Masters too start off as white belts.

Practicing Kuk Sool Won is a unique undertaking that will continually push you outside your comfort zone. Learning new things is thrilling, but takes work. The belts, stripes, and tips all represent the steps we take as we continue to push ourselves towards black belt, and beyond!

Everyone starts off at white belt and earns their belts, no one is ever handed a belt. Should you find yourself feeling frustrated or other feelings of discomfort while prepping for testing, it is important to remember to be patient, maintain a positive perspective, and never give up!

Mistaking skills for attributes can rob us of the motivation to overcome the hurdles we face as we acquire new skills, because attributes cannot inherently be learned or acquired. No matter how hard I try, I cannot make my brown eyes become blue. However, skills can be attained — I can learn to master those spin-kicks I’ve been struggling with. I just have to remember to keep trying, and someday my kicks will look as good as Master’s.

Until then — it’s pertinent to remember to enjoy the journey of learning, and to celebrate every milestone, no matter how seemingly small, along the way. And remember, you are by no means alone — we achieve black belt together!


Kuk sool!

Kam sam ni da!

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