My First Black Belt Grading – By a Parent

After witnessing the tremendous event that was a Black Belt grading yesterday, I would like to congratulate you and Yoseikan-Ryu for carrying on something so precious but which is missing in our society today. As a student of spirituality, I had the opportunity to find out how various ancient cultures around the world deal with rites of passage for boys to become men. What I witnessed yesterday morning bears all the hallmarks of such time-tested Initiation Rites. Ancient cultures instinctively found it necessary for young persons (boys predominantly) to undergo such rites before they are recognised as adults in the community.

Psychologists have concluded that these rites take place at the crucial stage in one’s life when he or she needs to be provided with the necessary tools of wisdom to assume role of authority in the community as an elder, leader, protector, provider, role model, counselor, etc; all that is expected of an adult. In actual fact, cultures find it difficult to entrust someone who is uninitiated with such authority, power and control in their communities. They will only abuse it.

Most rites of passage have the following common features:

* The initiate will have to complete the entire rite alone within those rules.
* The initiate always have to suffer some physical pain or are pushed to their physical limits.
* A group of elders are always present to preside over the rite and their decisions are final.
* The entire community accepts undergoing this rite of passage as inevitable for a person to grow into adulthood.
* The entire community will be there to support and encourage the initiate through the rite and be there to celebrate its completion and the initiated’s achievement.
* The result cannot be bought.

It is concluded, that putting the initiate through such a rite of passage leaves a mark of both humility and pride on their character. Both are necessary for true wisdom to blossom. By being pushed to their threshold of pain and endurance; especially in a setting where the elders represent both the authority they cannot reject and also the promise that they will come through it (because the elders went through the same themselves); the initiate finally understands that there are something’s in this world which are bigger than they are and which they simply cannot control or manipulate. The initiate has no choice but to humbly accept it whilst being true to himself or herself.

During the process, it feels like death. As always, something has to die before something greater can begin. What died; or least stopped infesting; was the soul and community destroying insatiable need for power, control, authority and achievement at all costs; which characterizes a good part of the ills of the youths today. The initiate also finally understands that it is not always about him or her. In fact, putting on the initiated symbol (a tattoo, a weapon or a black belt) means that the initiated is about the community and all the values the community represents. He or she becomes a microcosm of the community.

So I would like to say a big Thank You Branco for what you are doing through Yoseikan-Ryu. I look forward to putting my children through the same Black Belt Grading and I have no hesitation recommending it to all parents. I know it will hold my kids in good stead for the rest of their lives.

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