Mark, the Over-Qualified Green Tip
In college, as a hobby, I spent four years learning a particular martial art. Like many martial arts, the one I studied then used a progression of belt colours representing proficiency. There was one student, Mark, who’s belt was a ‘green tip’. I had always looked up to him as I was on a lower rank.. but for some reason he didn’t seem to progress. As I achieved each passing grade my confidence increased and I eagerly looked forward to each grading, proud of the new colour I was allowed to wear. Eventually, the time came when I was grading for my full green belt - the rank higher than his. He came over to watch me prepare and gave me a few tips… he already knew the form I was supposed to know far better than I did, and the next, and the next as well!. I was mystified. I asked him why he didn’t grade, and he answered ‘Why bother? - I’m here to enjoy myself and learn. I don’t need a belt to do that’.
It was right then I realised: colours and grades mean nothing, and you should never race to the finish line, because of what you will miss on the way if you do.. and anyway there is no finish line really. The journey is the destination, and I decided I would prefer to be an excellent green tip, or white belt for that matter, than a rushed black belt any day.
A few years later I discovered Lung Ying. There were no belts - no distractions, just the journey. I realised that this was what I really wanted : to learn something of the highest quality. Something deep, that I could pass on, and this time I truly did not care how long it would take.