Black Belts And Good Wine

A few days ago I was sitting at my terrace with some friends talking about the warrior ways whilst having a glass of wine. I like to have a good glass of wine now and then and especially when it is a Spanish red wine.

I was looking at the colour of the wine in the glass and appreciating the different aromas of it.

I realized that black belts instructors are much like wine and most students are like the common guy who takes a glass of wine now and then.

In my opinion a first dan (shodan) is the same as a young wine, from a very recent year without time to mature in old oak barrels. It’s flavour is nice, light and easy to drink. It is a good wine to start with when you don’t have a clue about wines. It will not give you a headache and a limited number of glasses won’t make you drunk.

The same thing goes for the 1st dan instructor. It’s a good technical instructor, easy to learn from and a great start when you take up your martial arts study.

This instructor will need time in the old oak barrels to mature but he will as his training continues and he keeps going on the path that leads to master ship. The only thing that could get in his way is his own ego. The moment he thinks he is a great wine; he stops learning and steps out of the oak barrel. A good instructor as well as a great wine needs time, lots of time and patience.

As instructors we first of all need to be like an outstanding grape, ready to be moulded into a fine wine. Next we will need an outstanding dojo with a great sensei who can turn us in a young wine , but this instructor has to have the expertise of the master wine maker to take us to the level of a GRAN RESERVA. To accomplish this he needs us to give all we have and more. Not only 95% of our dedication is needed but 105%. Only this way he can get all the flavours out of the wine.

But you must remember that time is needed. You can take the best machines, the best grapes and the best wine maker, if the young wine doesn’t want to go into the barrels they will never become a GRAN RESERVA.

Spanish wine comes in different classifications. We have the young wine which is classified as DENOMINACIÓN DE ORIGEN which guaranties it’s origin, one level up is the CRIANZA, a wine that already has had some time in the barrel, a RESERVA which is a “master level wine” and finally a GRAN RESERVA which is top of the bill.

But there is also the side of the customer, the average guy or girl who goes to the supermarket to buy themselves a bottle of wine to enjoy in a meal with their wife or husband. They can off course buy a RESERVA or GRAN RESERVA and pay a lot of money for one bottle but I ask myself, if they don’t have experience in drinking wine, will they be able to appreciate this wine to the fullest? Will they be able to notice the different notes and flavours hidden inside? I don’t think so. In my opinion they should get themselves a nice young wine or maybe a crianza and start with this. It will be a nice wine, low cost and easy to drink without headaches afterwards. After having acquired enough experience with the younger wines they may start trying the RESERVAS and when specialist in wine drinking (drunks ???) only then they will appreciate the GRAN RESERVA to the fullest.

How can we know as a starting budo practitioner if the wine (instructor) we are going to have is any good? As with wine there is a label that guaranties quality. It’s called lineage. Ask your instructor about his lineage. Who is his teacher? Who is the teacher of his teacher? How long does his art exist? Who are his colleagues, his co-instructors? Only when he can demonstrate his lineage, reputation and the authenticity of his martial art we will have a guaranty of it’s quality.

He will be accredited by his teacher’s reputation and by the fact he still is actively training. A teacher who stopped training is like a branch fallen of a tree. It will slowly become a dead branch.

Unfortunately, many people think that they are real wine specialists after having some young wines and therefore can pass judgement on the quality of RESERVAS and GRAN RESERVAS. How more wrong can they be?

First find the wine guaranty, next start trying the young wines and CRIANZA and finally when you are ready you can enjoy the RESERVA and GRAN RESERVA.