Black belt in everything

12:00:00 AM

On the way to Casa Bayot for DEFTAC Makati's jiu-jitsu field trip, our instructor, Boks, said something that really struck me: "I want to be a black belt in everything I do." I took a mental note of his statement, and I promised myself that I would share it here. To the unfamiliar, black is the highest belt color in most martial arts. I'm not sure about other forms, but in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, having a black belt is the equivalent of, say, a university doctoral degree. It connotes experience and expertise in the art.
In everything.
(photo from the internet)
Okay, one can't really become a black belt in everything, so please don't take the statement literally. For starters, belts are not given out in all fields. Haha! Anyway, this is not to say that human potential is limited -  I believe the opposite. However, time is finite. There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week 52 weeks in a year, so it's bound to run out. One cannot make time for everything he or she wants to do because there's simply not enough of it. And to master anything, one must invest time (and effort, of course).

Our black belt, Alvin Aguilar, really put in the hours to become the master in jiu-jitsu that he is today. He may be a natural in martial arts, but despite having that talent or flair for it, he still started as a white belt. Talent counts for something, yes. But Alvin's talent would not have taken him to where he is now if he didn't nurture it. If he did not work his ass off, he would not have become a black belt, period.

I talked to my friend Jonathan about this, and we both agreed that not everyone can be, or can do, that. Again, time is finite. The time you devote to something is the same time you take away from something else. And there are people who, like Jonathan and myself, want to do a lot of different things, and we have to split our time (and our resources, too!) among all of them. He juggles martial arts (I think he practices several forms), music (he's a wonderful drummer), and cooking (he makes the best spaghetti and meatballs), and he is not mediocre in any one.

For sure there are things that he's not good at, that he tried and failed miserably at, that he considered and eventually decided not to pursue. But those he chose - martial arts, music, and cooking - he does them really well. And the work he put (and continues to put) in developing his skills on those three endeavors made him exceptional. He's not doing it to impress anyone; he's doing it for himself. He constantly chooses to not be average, and that's what makes him a black belt.

And that's what I'm choosing now. I have a lot of interests, and I have to start by prioritizing a few: writing, jiu-jitsu, singing, and business. Four is actually a long list already if I wish to be a black belt, but I can't imaging giving any of them up. Wish me luck!


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