“Imagination is the beginning of creation.
You imagine what you desire,
you will what you imagine
and at last you create what you will.”
-George Bernard Shaw
I didn’t know any Black Belts when I was a kid, and I’m pretty sure none of my friends/partners in juvenile mayhem did, either. But we all told each other that we did. This mysterious “friend”, we would tell our audience, had to register themselves as lethal weapons at the local police station. They smashed bricks with their faces, when they weren’t fighting in underground cage matches. A black karate belt represented to young me strength and toughness and confidence—everything I wasn’t.
Indeed, nowhere in my galloping grade-school imagination did I ever see myself wearing that belt, let alone having the privilege of helping so many others achieve that remarkable accomplishment. But I don’t think I’m alone there. My guess is most of our finest warriors, prior to their first time stepping on the mat, never conceived of themselves as the sort of person who would meet – even exemplify – a level of martial arts excellence.
For all the work and sweat, determination and perseverance it takes to reach any peak, the importance of imagination can’t be overestimated. We work to become what we believe we can be, journey to a destination we first see in our minds. The sixteen amazing martial artists who achieved their new Black Belt ranks this weekend had the courage to dream big and the grit to see that dream through, and because of that created something really amazing: better versions of themselves, true Black Belts.