May 13: Kid’s Night Out
June 4: Love Our Neighborhood
Enroll now for Summer Camps
Auction Action—You can help!
Kid’s Night Out!
Monkey Around! May 13th 6:30-10 pm. $30 per child, siblings 2/$50. Sign-up here. Celebrate end-o-school with kids from ALL our programs! Games, snacks, Kung-Fu Panda movie, fun!
Love our Neighborhood Day
Join us Saturday, June 4th, 10–5pm for our annual street fair! Bring lunch and spend the day. A huge demo (like the Stroll), bake sale and community fun for all: sign-up on the back counter!
Help us support college-bound students! Do you have connections to local businesses, holiday homes, or ? Our auction funds Naga scholarships and Black Belt College Awards. We’d love help! Talk to Bantoe Cinthia or MGALouise with your ideas or to pitch in! Pendekkar Amber, above, one of our first graduates, is now on the board of the Tulen non-profit!
Join us at Camp Courage!
Camps are still open – weeklong trainings with friends old and new! A few slots are available in the Tilden overnight and day camp. And Studio Camp in July is a great path to intense training. Also, all Naga students and families are invited to Tilden on June 22nd for dinner and very special Bantoe Celebration at 6:00 pm. Sign-up for camps here!
How to raise black belts in a (sometimes) white belt world
Q: How long does it take an average person to earn a Poekoelan black belt?
A: An average person doesn’t earn a Poekoelan black belt.
Since the 16th century when fight-to-the death life skills were eclipsed by weaponry, martial arts training has focused on teaching a way of life, about how to live without fear, gain confidence and be better people. We’ve got centuries-old traditions shaping our values.
In good martial arts, effort is lauded over talent, and attitude is as important as accomplishment. Keeping these values to the fore actually addresses a huge swath of issues in the Studio. Unlike professional sports, or even sometimes business or politics – here, self-serving drive and physical talent will only get you so far.
We take a long time to “cook” our black belts, even to earn a new sash. This is challenging for both kids and adults. And testing is sometimes challenging for those around us, parents and friends.
Today, when promotions of all sorts are often expected rather than earned and graduation from kindergarten is cause for a ceremony, I know there are frustrations about the requirements – and the responsibilities – which mark the slow creep to black belt here. But the long path underscores our values: perseverance, a willingness to challenge ourselves, to look within rather that at others for a measure of “how we are doing.”
The bar is high – for everyone – but the results return tenfold. As we all help each other prepare now and for future tests, remember that challenge is key to change and growth. For some, the hard part is finding time to train, for others it’s the physical test, for others it’s the discomfort of teaching. Even those with mega-sports ability must develop leadership skills, and demonstrate both humility and empathy in order to progress.
But a Poekoelan black belt is not something you end up with, it’s earned over many years with a lot of sweat, sacrifice, and struggle.
This June at Camp Courage, a handful of people are testing for first through third degree black belt, along with some brown sashes. These are long tests – multiple days and nights – but the tests represent years, if not decades of training.
When I look to my right, at the row of those that have made it to black belt during the 18 years of the Studio, I am stunned by their growth, humbled by their commitment, and thrilled to see the line growing longer.
Each black belt, wrapped in that piece of cheap cotton, beautifully represents the art: humble and powerful, perfect and always striving for improvement, and wrapped in the efforts of self and others.
It is my honor to stand with and beside these new age warriors.
PS: This in no way is to disparage white belts – especially in the Studio where earning a white belt is ALSO hard!