The difference between the first time you do something and the next time is incredible. Muscle memory kicks in after a couple of times. Repetition increases confidence and creativity, and it’s easier to get into the concentration flow. With enough repetition you don’t think anymore you just do. In martial arts, this mind state is called Mushin. It comes from the term mushin no shin which means the mind without mind. This flow state is possible anywhere whether it’s hiking, exercising, working, playing. Rinse and repeat.
A black belt in martial arts is earned.
I don’t know if it’s a myth, or there’s truth to the evolution of the black belt…but I like the legend better. All masters begin their training with a white belt. The belt starts out white, but over time it gets dirtier, and stained with sweat and blood, and eventually it becomes stained black from years of training. In a lot of dojos, you don’t get to train until you’ve proved you are worthy of instruction. Sometimes that means volunteering in other areas and being invited to train after first demonstrating your commitment. It’s not “a pay to play” system. There’s no shortcut to mastery.
Mastering any art is the same. The answer is in the dirt. There’s no shortcut to mastery. Get in there and start practicing. Anyone can buy a black belt, but only some will earn it.
I love it when practices like Yoga, Aikido, Kung-fu, surfing, running, writing are described as nobel pursuits. It implies that the nobelness is not about achieving mastery, but more so achieved through the persuit of mastery. The answer is in the dirt of the day to day practice.