East Coast Martial Arts promoted 12 students at a black belt test on April 2. Students testing for a black belt are required to write an essay about what a black belt means to them. We’ll share the first page of these essays at the end of this blog post, but first, we had a chance to catch up with Travis Dagner to get his take on the test. Mr. Dagner not only had students testing, but he was being tested himself.
EC: So what belt did you test for?
TD: It was my 4th degree or dan.
EC: When did you start training?
TD: I started training in 1999.
EC: You are so young.
EC: Travis, what was it like taking part in a test in which you also had students testing?
TD: It was a lot of pressure. As an instructor, I want my students to do well. I love watching the kids. They are scared and nervous and they go out there and give 110%. As an student, I had to prepare myself as well. I wanted to prepare the kids, but had to prepare myself too. I’m proud of those kids because it is a time commitment, not just a year or two.
EC: How long does it take a student to get a black belt?
TD: Our average is 3.5 to 4 years, plus they have to help teach 30 different classes to improve their leadership skills.
EC: Are you still taking classes at Kent State?
TD: Yes, I’m a full time student at Kent.
EC: What are you studying?
TD: Business management.
EC: Is there anything that you have learned in the martial arts that will help you in management?
TD: You always hear people complain about how terrible their managers are and it’s because their managers never learned how to be a leader. They never learned how to listen and show respect for other people so that you yourself gain respect. You can’t ask someone to do something you yourself aren’t willing to do. If I can’t take 5 minutes to help a student outside of class, I can’t ask anyone else to do it. It’s the same in business.
EC: Is there anything else you would like to add?
TD: It takes a village. We have all these great instructors. That’s recognition for not only helping the kids, but they help me as well. It’s a family here.
EC: Thanks Travis.
TD: Thank you.
We are proud of all the students who tested. Here is what a black belt means to them: