Definition: “Shodan” - First degree black belt. Shodan means beginner or beginning.

DR. G’S COMMENTS: In Okinawan karate the student who passes his/her test for Shodan or first degree black belt is considered to be ready to finally begin his training. It doesn’t matter that the process leading to Shodan may have been five or more hard years of training. In traditional Okinawan karate, once you get your black belt you are NOT Mr. Studley J Studley, you are NOT “The MAN!” You are NOT God’s gift to creation. You are considered to be nothing more than a beginner and finally in a position to really take advantage of your training. What does th is Okinawan philosophy have to teach you about excellence in your sport? The attitude that you’re always a beginner no matter how good you are, that you always have things to learn will take you very far in your sport. It will help you become a champion. It will help you reach your potential. Because you can always do better than your best, there will always be newer and better things to learn and try that will help you get there. The over-confident athlete who thinks he has arrived, who thinks he has gotten as good as he needs to be, the athlete who stops working on his game is seriously deluding himself. If you think you’ve got it all, if you think you have all the answers, if you think that you no longer have anything more to learn, then step aside and watch carefully. Very soon you will begin to see a lot of “beginners” passing you by!

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