Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A message to the UBBT Teams

To Students, Participants, Friends, Alumni, and Fans of the Ultimate Black Belt Test,

I don’t know if you know this or not, but you are helping me craft an all new approach, a revolutionary approach, to black belt testing, rank tests, training –and the “martial arts” in general. Through your actions and commitment to your goals –you are shaping a new kind of meaning for the rank of “black belt.”

Through our work, parents are going to look at the martial arts in a different way –a better way –and so will the media; so will teachers, school administrators, politicians, students, and anyone else who finds value in transforming, value in giving, value in working on peace, activism, environmentalism, and all of the things that we are saying are a part of this process.

All the things we are working on –and doing –in this process.

You are a part of something much bigger than your own black belt test –something bigger than your own training. So many of our experiments here, in the UBBT, are new ideas, ideas that have not previously been executed the way we are doing them. When you apply yourself to the UBBT, you are bringing something very valuable to the martial arts –and to the world.

Long after this program is gone –what you’re doing here will still be an influence in the martial arts world. And if I can convince you to take it all very seriously –to apply yourself to your training like you are going to the Olympics –like it’s everything to you (things like empathy training, eating like a champion, performing and recording acts of kindness, reading, walking 1000 miles, participating in Alabama, etc.), then you will make this all so much more powerful, so much more effective and meaningful and influential.

Treat your time here as if you were aware that you are a pioneer; that you aware that you are influencing and/or will influence scores of other people. Document what you are learning, what you experience –not just for your own growth and record, but for every little boy and girl, for every young man, for every person over 30 looking for authenticity –and looking to the UBBT for inspiration. Do it for everyone who will study the martial arts in the future --and experience empathy training, who will keep a journal of their year-long "test", who will learn and then teach peace education, who will perform acts of kindness, and environmental clean up projects, who will forgive their enemies --and who will do all these things in the pursuit of the coveted rank of "black belt."

Be a champion –regardless of your age, your ability, your background, and your obstacles. Understand too, that you are not being “acted upon” in this program –no, you are laying the foundation for the program. You are actively involved in making it happen –you are growing the UBBT.

Tell me of a test –a martial arts test, where you might have the opportunity to change the martial arts world for the better? Have you been in one? Have you seen a test like that before? Perhaps you have –but either way, if you’re in the program now, then appreciate that you are making history.

I know that to be true.

Thank you. I’m glad to be here with you –even if you’re not up to speed yet, the fact that you have arrived here is a sign that we are making progress.


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