Is it hard to get a black belt?

If you have learned that it is hard to get a black belt, you were misinformed. That’s right! It is easier than ever to get a black belt. Just type “martial arts black belt” in any search engine and you will find many results. Click on the site you like the most, and place your order. You will get a black belt delivered to your door in a matter of days. Imagine that! You can get a black belt in any style of martial art, or many styles, all within days! And you thought it would take years!

It’s not easy to earn a black belt

Ah! There is a big difference in those two words: “get” and “earn”. Getting a black belt is a matter of having a credit card. Earning a black belt is an entirely different concept. There are many different systems in place for the many styles of martial arts to achieve “their” black belt. Sadly, some are not as tough as others. (Yes, I said tough. It should be tough!) This post is not about those huge discrepancies – maybe in the future I’ll comment on that. This is about earning, and becoming, a black belt.

At The Bushido School of Karate earning a black belt is a minimum of 3 years of training. A student’s training towards that goal begins on their very first class. Kicks, punches, self-defense, kata – those are all important techniques and requirements and become more challenging at each level of training. Many times a senior ranking student can adequately teach these techniques. On the other hand, learning to work with others, good sportsmanship, fairness, conflict resolution, compassion, empathy, leadership skills and mentoring are the responsibility of a black belt.

To become a black belt you have to train as one!

Earning a black belt is far different than getting a black belt; becoming a black belt is the next part of the journey after earning one. We always remind our students that if all their requirements are demonstrated, he or she will earn the next belt. A green belt with strong knowledge of their curriculum will be promoted to red belt. Once promoted to red belt, it is then that the student has become a green belt. Once a red belt is earned, the next part of the journey is becoming a red belt.

Moving into the role of becoming a black belt is a responsibility we do not take lightly. Black belts are expected to help and assist in classes for their fellow students. This reenforces a black belt’s already strong and impressive techniques, but the purpose is even more important. It affords a black belt student the opportunity to become a black belt: a black belt student humbling him or her self to learn from a white belt is where the journey of becoming begins.


The reasons for the kiai in martial arts

karate kicks on a pad

In order to understand the reasons for the kiai in martial arts, we need to break down the word kiai. Ki = inner energy, Ai = join. When a student kiais’ it is the joining of all your energy. It is a very personal thing, believe it or not, but there are physiological aspects that should be the same for everyone.

Physiological aspects of the kiai

The properly executed kiai is not a scream. If you think about it, screaming is what you do when you are afraid! Certainly a martial artists looking to engage all of his or her inner energy would not want to scream.

Screams generally come from your throat. Kiai’s do not. If martial artists screamed out kiais, we would all lose our voices very quickly. And your voice is a weapon, so you wouldn’t want to wear out your weapon. A properly executed kiai is a much deeper sound than a scream because it is generated in your torso. Put your hands on your waist with your feet about shoulder width apart. Now lean from side to side. In order to maintain balance, you need to engage your core muscles. These same muscles help to “push-out” a proper kiai. ( Even more reasons to strengthen those ab’s!)

The 3 reasons why we teach our students to kiai

At The Bushido School of Karate there are 3 specific reasons for every kiai:

To scare the attacker, or bully

Imagine the shock you feel when someone surprisingly yells “BOO!” right in your face. It is disarming, and just might give you enough time to get out of a bad situation.

To call for help

A strong kiai will have a resounding affect and will alert others. A very important reason to continuously practice kiai’s is so that doing it becomes second nature. It is the same reason we practice the same kick over and over: to get better at it. When an individual is under a stressful situation, he or she may temporarily lose the ability to speak. This is a result of adrenal stress conditioning – (a topic for another day!) . But if the kiai is practiced as often as the kick, there is a better chance of a loud outcome.

To feel stronger ( the joining of your energy )

It is hard enough for adults to comprehend this concept, at least at the beginner level. So there had to be a more relatable way to get this very fundamental idea across to our younger students.

We give our students a narrative of the sounds made by a person attempting to lift a heavy box. Usually this is not done silently. For some mystical reason those grunts and groans give us more power. So kiais work in the same way; they give us more power.

Student Spotlight No. 33

karate girl hidden by question mark

Bushido Karate for dad and daughter

The Bushido School of Karate is so appreciative of the students and families that are a part of our Bushido Karate family. We’ve had the pleasure of teaching for over 2 decades and in that time have been privileged to teach thousands of students. Everyone started at the beginning with no shortcuts, and we are so proud of their accomplishments.  Our weekly Student Spotlight features randomly chosen students on their own journey at The Bushido School of Karate.

This week’s spotlight is on Joanna!

Joanna is 9 years old, is in 4th grade and is a white belt. She began her Bushido Karate training in November 2018. Joanna is the 2nd generation in her family to learn from Shihan Mehrkar! Joanna’s father was a student in the 1990’s!

I like coming to Bushido because I learn confidence, and new skills like board breaking, self-defense and how to block and strike.

– Joanna

We chose Bushido because I’m a former student and only wanted Shihan (Mehrkar) to train my daughter.

Joanna’s dad
Spotlight on Joanna!
April 3rd, 2019

3 reasons to use Apple Cider Vinegar

There is definitely more than 3 reasons to take apple cider vinegar daily; much more. Also known as ACV, there are scientifically proven reasons why this stuff carries a potent punch to boost health. I started taking a “shot” every day because my bad cholesterol (LDL) was high for 2 years in a row. Rather than begin medication, I decided to try a more natural approach. “Dr. Google” displayed pages and pages of “natural ways to lower cholesterol”. In the first 3 pages almost every article and link contained the words apple cider vinegar! So begins my journey.

1. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Fights Diabetes

(Click the heading to read the full article written by Kris Gunnars, BSc and published in

By far, the most successful application of vinegar to date is in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels, either because of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin (5).

However, high blood sugar can also be a problem in people who don’t have diabetes. It is believed to be a major cause of aging and various chronic diseases.

Pretty much everyone should benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels in the normal range. The most effective (and healthiest) way to do that is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar can also have a powerful effect.

Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for blood sugar and insulin levels:

  • Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19–34% and significantly lowers blood sugar and insulin responses (6).
  • Reduces blood sugar by 34% after eating 50 grams of white bread (7).
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugar in the morning by 4% (8).
  • Numerous other studies in humans show that vinegar can improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels after meals (910).

For these reasons, vinegar can be useful for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or those who want to keep their blood sugar levels low for other reasons.

If you’re currently taking blood-sugar-lowering medications, check with your doctor before increasing your intake of any type of vinegar.

2. Could help lower both total cholesterol and triglycerides.

(Click the heading to read the full article written by Jennifer Berry and published in

cholesterol blood test

Apple cider vinegar may lower cholesterol levels.

High triglyceride and cholesterol levels can increase a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke. Also, a high total cholesterol level raises the risk of heart problems.

Some evidence suggests that taking apple cider vinegar could help lower both total cholesterol and triglycerides.

12-week study investigated the effects of taking apple cider vinegar in people on a low-calorie diet. The researchers found that participants who took apple cider vinegar not only lost more weight than those who took a placebo but also had lower triglycerides and total cholesterol.

The people who took apple cider vinegar also had significantly raised levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Doctors sometimes refer to HDL cholesterol as “good cholesterol” because it can help lower the risk of heart problems.

3. Athlete’s foot remedy

(Click the heading to read the full article written by Katie Wells and published in

The sour, tangy crunchy mama favorite that helps with everything from heartburn to dandruffcan also be one of the best natural remedies for mild athlete’s foot.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV for those familiar with this crushed, fermented apple product) has been used since the times of Hippocrates, when it was prized for its medicinal properties. It’s known to be especially beneficial against yeast and fungus, and many people take it internally to keep candida in balance.

To use ACV to remedy athlete’s foot, make sure you’ve got a good, high-quality, unpasteurized version (the ones still containing the “mother” are better, and you can even make your own!). Of course you can also buy in stores or online, I get mine here.

In a foot bath container, mix together:

Soak your feet for around half an hour. You can also apply plain ACV directly to the infection with a cotton ball. Apple cider vinegar will likely sting, so be aware and dilute more if necessary

Ways to include it in your diet

So it is not the easiest thing to drink on its own. I was shocked by the smell as soon as I opened the bottle. While some people put a teaspoon in their morning tea, if I can smell it, I will gag. Not pretty.

My routine is to pour 1/3 of a shotglass and have a full teaspoon of honey at-the-ready. I hold my nose, drink the ACV as fast as I can and follow-up immediately with the honey. I swish the honey to cover every part of my mouth, thus leaving a sweet flavor rather than acidic. Works for me!

Student Spotlight No. 32

man wearing karate uniform with hidden face

The Bushido School of Karate is so appreciative of the students and families that are a part of our Bushido Karate family. We’ve had the pleasure of teaching for over 2 decades and in that time have been privileged to teach thousands of students. Everyone started at the beginning with no shortcuts, and we are so proud of their accomplishments.  Our weekly Student Spotlight features randomly chosen students on their own journey at The Bushido School of Karate.

This week’s spotlight is on Deshi Josh!

Deshi is 25 years old, and is in his 2nd year of medical school. He began his Bushido Karate training in October 2001. Fifteen years later in March of 2016 he achieved the rank of 4th degree black belt. In April 2017 he was awarded the title of Deshi. A Deshi is more than a student. Deshi are apprentice(s) of the Master instructor. It is a Japanese term used in the systems of many styles of martial arts. At The Bushido School of Karate we have awarded this rank to only a handful of long-time students. Deshi are expected to pass along the tradition to future generations.

Balancing his lifestyle

We don’t get to see Deshi Josh as often as we would like. The very impressive reason for this is because he is in his 2nd year of medical school. While pursuing his career in pediatric medicine, he always comes back to train and help when he gets a break. The smiles on our younger student’s faces when “Deshi is back” are heartwarming.

Short and sweet, Deshi Josh’s quote below sums up perfectly the atmosphere we all are lucky to have!

Bushido means family. I love how even when I’m away, I can always come back to my second home- to see everyone improving and getting better.

– Deshi Josh
Student spotlight on Deshi Josh
March 21, 2019
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