Last week I read about a disagreement between two dan grades in a shotokan school. In a nutshell, one was spouting off some Behavioral pseudo-science to the students about muscular reflexes and their role in efficient technique. After another dan grade debated him on the value of centering beginner’s training around outdated and irrelevant theories, a white belt who happened to be a medical doctor was consulted as an authority on anatomy and physiology. The white belt’s reply: “he was not qualified to discuss this stuff with full black belts.” Let me frame the question that is hopefully coalescing in the reader’s mind: what in the hell does holding a dan grade have to do with authority in medical discussions? Does becoming a dan grade somehow turn one into a combination of Einstein (mass x speed = reverse punch), Clint Eastwood (“I know what you’re thinking- did he kiai five times, or six?”) and Henry Grey?
Nope. People in black belts are a dime a dozen, and there’s no reason to think that it’s a symbol of a superhuman feat or certification that one is a polymath. There’s an awful lot of bullshit in the air about what a black belt is, as evidenced by the M.D. who deferred a question about his field to someone with no medical training whatsoever- simply because he wore a dark piece of cloth around his waist…use your brain. Don’t let bullshit take the place of hard-won valuable knowledge.