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A little-known benefit of becoming a black belt

Hi, I’m Jim Mather, Founder and Chief Instructor of California Karate Academy. Thank you for visiting our blog.

Being in the martial arts for over 64 years, few people probably know as well as I do how earning a black belt in karate will change your life in a multitude of wonderful ways. I’m thankful every day for the many gifts it has allowed me to enjoy throughout my lifetime. I consider it one of the best things I ever did and wouldn’t give my black belt back for all the money in the world. And it’s not just me. Through the years, I have regularly received letters, emails, or visits from former students who have found that karate and training at our dojo have made significant changes in their lives.

I want to discuss a little-known benefit of earning a black belt. It can help get you or your child into a top high school or university.

I had always believed – as did the Japanese, Chinese, and Greeks – that a true man had to be both a warrior and a scholar. The Chinese called this a Superior Man. I always worked to acquire both skill and knowledge in Karate and achieve a good education, earning Bachelors and Masters degrees at Stanford, where I also reached Ph.D. Candidacy.

If I hadn’t been a Black Belt, I would never have gotten into Stanford University. If your goal is to attend a top university or high school, like mine was, a black belt on your resume will increase your chances of being accepted.

Why is this? Because Admissions Staff at top schools are literally swamped with highly qualified applicants, generally for a tiny number of openings. All have high GPAs. All have high scores on their entrance exams. Their dilemma, then, is to figure out how they decide who to accept?

I found that they look for other accomplishments, which set some applicants apart from the pack. A black belt does just that. It supplies proof that you are someone who has achieved what few others within our society can claim – a Black Belt in our legendary martial art of karate. By now, school admissions administrators, like most other people, know what that means. This tells them that you will do well because you have proven that you have a strong work ethic and the drive and determination to complete whatever you undertake. If you didn’t possess these qualities, you would never have earned a black belt.

When I transferred to Stanford, I transferred in as a Junior. I was told that there had been over 1,200 applicants for just 2 openings. For whatever reason, two Stanford sophomores had to drop out of school, creating vacancies in their Junior Class. My grades and SAT scores were good but certainly not above all others who applied. What set me apart – reinforced to me by the man who interviewed me for the openings – were my other accomplishments, including being a black belt. We spoke a lot about that.

Obviously, there’s no guarantee that becoming a black belt and listing it on your entrance application will get you in. But when all other things are equal or even near equal between you and other candidates, it can tip the balance in your direction.

Thank you for your interest in our blog. More posts will be coming soon.