White Belt Mentality

My kids used to study judo just down the street from my house.  One day, as I was dropping them off, I noticed a new guy, an instructor, was there in place of the usual black belt sensei.  This guy looked like maybe he knew something about judo; he had that old, venerable, Mr. Miyagi-san thing going on, but he wasn’t even ablack belt!  I was a little disappointed that this normally really solid club would allow a person without the proper credentials to instruct the children. Humph!  What kind of school is this that has some guy, with a funny looking red/white belt, to take over the class??

If you know anything about judo you know how flat out, upside down and backwards wrong I was!  Upon siding up to one of the junior instructors and asking, casually, “Uh, who’s this red belt guy?” I was told that this “red belt guy” was the founder of the club and one of the highest ranking judokas in the state!!”Uh, that’s, ah, great that he, ah, still has time to, you know, instruct our children,” I mumbled, humbled, back.

My understanding then and now is so baby, so infantile.  I know in part and see in part because that which is perfect is not yet.  Why is it that I think that I know something when I don’t? 

I want to be open, continuously learning and growing.

I want to be flexible in my thinking and outlook.

An old-time ki-atsu massage therapist told me, after watching my unsuccessful attempt to touch my toes, that I need to stretch more.  He said that the closer you are to death the stiffer you become.  Rigor mortis is the ultimate lack of flexibility in the body.  I don’t want it to happen to my thinking and growing. I don’t want to have an old, brittle head or heart.  My uncle says that “Hard is for the dead and soft for the living.”

A story is told of Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, who, being close to death, gathered his students around him and instructed them to bury him in a white belt.  Here was someone, who at the highest level of his craft, was still open to learn and to grow.  He continues to instruct us all through this story. I’m putting on my white belt how ’bout you?

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