Being a Black Belt “AT HEART” means more than just an emotional state. When the martial artist speaks about this, meaning resonates more on a state of one’s clarity and awareness of the present moment. While the beginner is simply reacting to situations with muscle and emotional defense, the advanced student is relaxed and absorbs the situation with much greater efficiency and effectiveness. This is not just regarding technical maneuvers…… We can say that the advanced person put in more practice, more hours of sweat, so they are more capable to deal with the match and confrontation, however, I have seen many students who have put in lots of “time” yet REACT as a beginner would with either tension, force, and/or submission to the situation at hand (in matches, in professional life, & personal life)….. The Black Belt heart is deeper though in that no matter how much mat time you have, with humility and openness you can bring forth a mentality which allows you to truly RESPOND to situations rather than simply react. Of course training and experience builds a better situational vocabulary, yet everyone can put into practice a proper state of mind and strive for a Black Belt heart no matter your rank and no matter where you are. This open yet focused – humble yet determined state of mind is always there and waiting for the brave to put into practice. Yes, it is hard to depart from a lifetime of habitual reactions and the drives of our subconscious, however, a true response to any situation requires genuine clarity and awareness in the present moment.