Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Are you willing to wear the white belt?

When Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, was quite old and close to death, the story goes he called his students around him and told them he wanted to be buried in his white belt. What a touching story of the celebrity Judo Master; how humble of the world’s highest ranking judoist in his last days to ask for the emblem of the beginner! But Kano’s request, eventually realised, was less humility than realism.

At the moment of death, the ultimate transformation, we are all white belts. And if death makes beginners of us, so does life, again and again. In the master’s secret mirror, even at highest renown and accomplishment, there is an image of the newest student in class; eager for knowledge, willing to play the fool. And for all who walk the path of mastery, however far that journey has progressed, Kano’s request becomes a lingering question,

an ever new challenge:
Are you willing to wear your white belt?

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