The Intent and Purpose of the Experiential Leadership Requirement

A black belt is automatically put into a leadership position upon donning the belt.   We find this is a transition, that is shocking, without having first spent meaningful time practicing, and experiencing what it is like.

 It will still be different upon becoming a black belt, but the practice will make it easier —less culture shock, if you will.  It helps also in the passing on of the traditions, and techniques of martial arts is a skill in itself.   And we believe that it is one of the responsibilities, and privileges of becoming a black belt, and eventually an instructor.   An instructor ranking (2nd and 3rd dan) is the level at which most advanced martial artists say: "I got it” .  

Also in practicing the leadership and training of the next generation of black belts, one finds their way to a greater understanding the curriculum, its design, and its outcomes.  And through that leadership, and training, one is able to further perfect their technique.  

It also challenges the mental development of a martial artist — serving as a proving groun

d for the practice of the senior’s responsibility — which simple put and taught is that the senior's responsibility is to love the junior.   The junior's responsibility is to respect the senior.   To take on that responsibility, is to practice the actions of love — patience, kindness, compassion, empathy, nurturing, consistency. . .  And practicing this in the face of a frustrated yellow belt who hasn’t come to understand how to show respect is a honing of one's self in a whole new way.

If you are a red belt or higher, please contact me or the other instructors, about setting up time to perform your leadership training.   You can reach me by email, listed below.   


About the Author:

MeLisa Strongheart is a Master Instructor and co-owner at Mercer Island Martial Arts (MIMA), located on Mercer Island very between Bellevue and Seattle in Washington since 1997.  MIMA's curriculum is intentionally designed to build fitness, flexibility, self-defense, as well as to create a milieu which engenders physiological growth, respect, courage, and community activism and leadership.   

MIMA has programs for families to practice side by side, as well as adult, teen, and children's classes.  Also offers before and after school, and summer camp programs for kids.


You can contact through email:; calling 206 230-9050.


The school is located at:

2630 77th Ave SE #106-108 Mercer Island, WA 98040 

Parking free under the building.

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Comment by MeLisa Turcott Strongheart on September 8, 2014 at 5:40pm

thanks Gail!

Comment by Gail Cribbs on September 7, 2014 at 10:44am
Thank you for providing yet another inspirational message!

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