Catalog Black Belts

Black Belt 1

What is the definition of a Catalog Black Belt? A Catalog Black Belt is someone who has had some type of martial arts training and decided that they have the aspiration to become an instructor or teacher. Rather than complete the years of training and instruction it takes to meet that goal they decide forego the work and order a black belt online. Instantly overnight they become a catalog black belt. They have the ability to create their own fake certificates online. They even go so far as to create fake credentials by naming off instructors who they never trained with. Here is a list to watch out for in a catalog black belt.

  1. The instructor you train with tells you that they have trained in a little bit of everything. This is a sign that they never actually trained long enough in any one style or discipline to reach a considerable rank. Many hold it under the guise of MMA. Remember that the best MMA instructors started out and have a firm foundation in a legitimate martial art or style. This means that the minimum they earned is a black belt. After that they improved upon their programs by adapting in skills from other arts.
  2. Martial arts is passed down from instructor to student. If you can’t trace where your martial arts comes from that is a problem. Every student should have be ability to track themselves back to the original founder of the discipline they trained in. That doesn’t mean I trained with Bill down the street who earned his black belt online and developed a new style of Karate called Fat Duck Soup. If you can’t trace it back you better ask more questions and find out where your style comes from.
  3. Your instructor should have gone through a rigorous training program and know how to teach. Teaching certificates are not handed out like mints at a restaurant. If there is inconsistency in the quality and quantity of what you learn, it’s time to look for a new school. You need to have a good teacher. Also remember that just because a guy is a Karate champion does not mean he is a good instructor and knows how to teach.
  4. The person who owns and runs the school is only interested in their own personal ambition and financial gain. That means that testing requirements are not based off the students accumulated knowledge, but rather their ability to pay large fees. This particular type of ambition knows no limits. These type of individuals often want to ride off the coat tails of others. That means they don’t want to earn it. They just want to utilize someone else’s skills and talent to fill their bank account. Find a legitimate teacher who earns their rank.
  5. Your instructor tries to teach you things that would never work in a real fight. That means that the movements seem sub par or not affective in a real self-defense situation. Your instructor should be very knowledgeable in what he is teaching.
  6. Your instructor does not practice what he preaches. Is he fat or out of shape? Does he not train on a regular basis to improve his skills? A good teacher is a lifetime student. They never stop learning.

Remember the old saying, buyer beware. Catalog Black Belts are much like false prophets. They prey on weak minded people who don’t know the difference between fake and legitimate martial arts. Take the time to do your research. If you see any of these signs, you need to ask more questions and dig a bit deeper. Wearing a uniform and having a fancy gym does not make them the expert that they claim to be.

Master Low

Flow like water

In Tang Soo Do we are constantly working to improve our technique. We strive for the purity of form in our performance and the effectiveness of each movement. Often during a sparring match in the class a student will throw one or two techniques and stop. Although the technique might of looked great it often falls short of its intended goal. How do we solve this problem? Was my kick just not fast enough? Did I not learn it correctly? New students often look over at me with a distraught look on their face after they miss or have a strike blocked. The truth is that every attack against your opponent has to have an end result. That end result can’t always be achieved by starting and stopping. Combinations are done to create the openings. You analyze you opponents movements always looking for weakness. Follow up techniques if done in the correct order lead to the point strikes and knock outs. It all comes down to intent. What is your final goal? Most real fights do not end with one or two techniques. They end when multiple strikes lead to the winning blow. We call this continuous flow of movement. Keep that in mind and we continue to improve your skills.

As Bruce Lee would say, “Flow like water my friend!”

Master Low


Instructors hope that each day they earn the loyalty and trust of their students. A Master passes on his teachings to a student in the hope that they can grow into an amazing martial artist. One who makes the school proud by demonstrating good character, discipline and respect. It can sometimes be discouraging when a student quits right before they are start to really understand the benefits of their training. Or they quit because they become impatient and don’t understand why an instructor holds them back. True loyalty is when you get no personal gain from a decision made but support it anyway. You base your decision on your values and not your own ambition. Loyalty is a two way street. A good instructor would do anything for their students and good students should always trust their instructors judgement. There is always a bigger picture. Loyalty is a two way street. I have seen students mistreated and disrespected by their instructors. Nobody should ever be disrespected or robbed of their dignity. That’s not the way of a true martial artist. You need to trust your instructor and believe every decision they make is for the greater good. If you don’t trust them, leave your school and find someone you do trust. Life without genuine relationships is meaningless.

Master Low

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