When asked why my black belt is on the bottom of the rack at Affinity Martial Arts, I try not to give a wordy response. Most of the time I just refer to the popular model of servant leadership and leave it at that. Our classes are only an hour long at Affinity and we do our best keep the momentum going forward.

The truth of the matter is that my belt is there for two reasons. The first reason is that our core values at Affinity are based on a servant leadership model. The instructors at our school are there for the student’s progression in the martial arts first and foremost. When on the floor our students come first, we are not there to force our opinions or egos on others. It is our mission to listen to the student base and provide a bridge for them to get to where they want to be from exactly where they are at that moment that they came in to our school. It is as simple as that, but it isn’t…

The other reason that I have my black belt at the bottom of the rack is to remind both myself and the progressing students that being a student is still the best place to be. Being a student is still where the magic happens, the growth starts, and lives are still being changed, even after being on the journey for years or even decades. It is a humbling process to be watch people go through the transformation that martial arts provides to some people. Usually people that are struggling with something else in their life, those that find a meaning in their training that wouldn’t make sense to someone else. The journey is something special to watch and reminds us why making it to the gym at the end of the day is so important.

At Affinity Martial Arts the mark of black belt is still one of a humble beginner, at least I think so, we still haven’t promoted anyone that far yet….Who will be the first?? Maybe…you??

-Instructor Jamie Sparling