2018 – The Year Of The Dirty White Belt

3 Jan

In New Years past, I’ve advocated viewing the coming year with the “mind of a white belt.” That is to say to look towards the coming year without preconceptions of either thought or emotion. This year is different. This year I suggest you view the coming year with the mind of a dirty white belt.

   There is a Goshin-Do Karate percept, “Observe with the mind of a white belt.” It served as a reminder to advanced students and particularly those of black belt rank to constantly view their karate with an intellectual ”innocence.” The while belt, worn by novice students, is said to symbolize purity and innocence in terms of preconceptions as to Karate. When a Karate-Ka (student of Karate) first enters the Dojo, the neophyte observes without preconceived thought or emotion. Thus, one observes every detail, even the most minute, with the pure eyes of a child. In doing so, one is able to capture the inner most aspect of a Karate-Do technique and incorporate it into one’s personal repertoire.

So, what is a dirty white belt?
Prior to the advent of modern colored belts, a Karate-Ka would wear the same belt (a white belt) during his entire training. Although the Karate uniform would be laundered  regularly, as a sign of respect, the Karate-Ka would not wash his belt. The belt would even be used to wipe the sweat from one’s brow after training. Thus, the belt would become discolored, “dirty”. This “dirt” symbolized not only one’s physical progression and learning but also emotional and psychological development in Karate-do. Eventually, the belt turned completely black from use, wear and tear. This is the humble birth of the all too coveted black belt. Thus, the dirty white belt symbolizes innocence tempered by experience.
In years passed, I think my advice was sound. For this coming year, it is time to adapt a mindset of a weathered, worn, thus “dirty” white belt. For 2017 I advocate a mindset of an unclean white belt; one that while still representing a lack of preconception, bears the mark of its past experiences. 2017 should be viewed warily. Do not pre-conceive, but do not be cajoled into complacency with an innocent mindset. De open but be skeptical of that which seems out of order. It usually is. When necessary, be willing and ready to act. Then act.

   My original black belt – now returning back to its whiteness. Perhaps now more and more like my hair and beard, a “grey-belt.”

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Featured video: Seienchin Kata translates as “The calm in the storm, storm in the calm.” I think this is one representation of the dirty white belt concept. This video was filmed during a spontaneous appearance of a herd of wild horses on the Lower Salt River, Tonto National Forest, Arizona. Please enjoy.

© Copyright 2018 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
   my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com


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