Martial Arts

black belt

black belt

You know, from all the thousands of people who start training in martial arts on a daily basis, only a handful make it to their first grading. And, the percentage who progress through the ranks gets smaller and smaller, the higher you grade.

So you can imagine, only a tiny percentage ever attain the prestigious black belt.

I consider myself very lucky to have made it. Sure, it took a lot out of my social life, dedicating three evenings a week to study taekwondo. Plus, all the supplementary training outside of class. It took a lot of bruises, welts and frustration in learning new patterns. Mastering a new kick. Punching the wall till my knuckles were raw red and bleeding, and the skin had grazed.

You see. I didn’t want to be just an ‘average’ black belt. I wanted to look and feel like one.

Theoretically, it is possible to gain the black belt putting in part-time hours and part-time effort. But the end result will be, you will look like a part-time black belt. And, I’ve seen plenty of those.

No disrespect to anyone. Everyone trains for different reasons, most people take it as a hobby, which is fine.

However, I turned it into a passion. A reason for living.

You may think that is fanatical, but training became a religion for me. My first love was taekwondo, and you never forget your first love.

According to the official definition, a black belt signifies maturity in taekwondo. The opposite of white belt. It indicates imperviousness to darkness and fear.

On a more personal level, it means so much more to me. And then again, it means absolutely nothing.

What is more important is a black belt mentality.

The other day, some of my senior kids were not paying attention and generally misbehaving. So, I told them to take off their belts and go to the back row. Behind the junior grades.

Then, during the course of the class, I instructed ‘white belts do this technique, red belts do this technique’. One of the demoted red belts said to me ‘what are we supposed to do?’ (since I temporarily had taken their red belts away from them).

Obviously these kids had a lot to learn. It was lecture time again.

Regardless of what colour of belt you are wearing around your waist, do not let it define you. If your ‘red’ belt is taken away from you, does that mean you lose your abilities? Does that mean you forget your red belt techniques?

Whenever I am walking down any street, in any country of the world, I know that I am a black belt. I know I have a responsibility not only to myself and those close to me, but to the reputation of taekwondo and martial arts. I do not  need to wear a black belt around my waist to know that. I have a black belt mentality.

I know many non-martial artists in my day to day life who also have a black belt mentality.

Being a black belt is a state of mind. The responsibility which comes with being a black belt is a responsibility to the betterment of your local community, society and the world.

Respect, integrity, and an indomitable spirit, with which you can conquer any obstacle.

Helen Keller had a black belt mentality. Anne Frank had a black belt mentality. Mother Teresa had a black belt mentality. Nelson Mandela has a black belt mentality.

Overcoming adversity, regardless of your personal limitations or disabilities. To have the inner strength to deal with whatever cards life has dealt you. That is having a black belt attitude towards life.

So, regardless of whether you are a martial artist or not, let me ask you, do you have a black belt mentality?


So, someone sent me the following link yesterday.

It’s a discussion on a white nationalist internet forum, associated with US Representative, David Duke. It’s about a refugee training  programme I taught a couple of years ago, at the behest of a Glasgow Asylum Seeker organization, called the ‘Volunteer Centre‘.

Some of the things which are written are insulting and downright lies. For instance, I am being accused of ‘drilling and training a potential political force’ and ‘encouraging rapes of white women’.
Browsing through this forum, I was aghast at the fact that they sympathize with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, and there are blatantly racist topics such as ‘why the white race must command’.
These guys are openly anti-semetic, and wish that Nazi Germany had won world war 2, which is shocking. The hatred of Jews and foreigners is astonishing and sickening. They also claim that the majority of British people despise the Jews and foreigners, which in my experience is incorrect.
The real story of why I taught the refugees was so that they could experience the benefits of martial arts, and gain confidence. Many of them told me that they lived in fear of their lives, living in areas of Glasgow such as Sighthill. One of them witnessed his best friend getting stabbed to death in front of him. Most of them had been racially abused and threatened. Even women had been threatened with knives. Imagine threatening a defenceless woman with a weapon?
Everyone enjoyed their training, and certainly, no-one is going to go around ‘raping and killing whites’!.
Lets all pray for peace and harmony between everyone, and work towards a better world. We can unify and improve society through the martial arts. It’s time to use our skills and construct a better society, in which everyone is treated equally, regardless of their ethnic origin.
In taekwondo, we do not differentiate between race, colour, age, sex. The only thing that matters is the respect you have for others, and what you achieve through hard work and discipline. How you can contribute to eradication poverty, hunger, homelessness. How you can stand up to defend the weak.






Martial Arts Online

Martial Arts Online

Since Roman times and before, mankind has always had a lust for mortal combat, maybe the reason why ‘No Holds Barred’ fighting competitions such as UFC haven’t captured the public imagination the way boxing has is that it appears to be commercialized. Boasting about having ‘no rules’ is clearly transparent, of course there are rules!

Taekwondo is different. It is closer to boxing, it is for real. Very real. Although many arts such as Karate may have similar looking techniques as Taekwondo, they are nothing compared to the effectiveness of Taekwondo, where the techniques are scientifically proven and are under constant research in the universities of South Korea. The precise speed at each moment, body balance, positioning, angles of the body are all regulated and rigorously practiced until they become automated. Unless witnessed, it is difficult to appreciate the beauty and art of the movements. As one observer so aptly put it ‘watching Taekwondo performed by someone who knows what he’s doing shatters your sense of reality’.

Evolved from the ancient Korean art of Taekyon, modern Taekwondo is arguably Korea’s greatest gift to the world. The World Taekwondo Federation, based in South Korea, regulates Taekwondo. It is well known for being a lethal form of self-defense, applicable in all situations. It is said that a Taekwondo practitioner can meet an opponent any time and any place, and he/she uses his whole body as a weapon. The whole body is used to fend off attackers. Once the basic Taekwondo formula has been learned, the practitioner can utilize it for use in street situations, by harnessing the power of his/her body. In today’s dangerous world, a knowledge of self-defense is vital, just to survive, and protect your loved ones. The beauty of Taekwondo is that a seven stone woman can easily beat off a sixteen stone man with total confidence. She is given the choice whether to restrain, disable or even kill the aggressor. Size has absolutely nothing to do with it. Taekwondo evens the odds, and gives, otherwise vulnerable people, the total confidence and power to deal with any sort of attacker.

As training in Taekwondo progresses, the student begins to realize how everything fits in. The mist clears, and secrets which were otherwise hidden, reveal themselves. The student understands what it takes to defeat any opponent. It is not unknown for Taekwondo practitioners to be able to end a fight within seconds. When facing a Taekwondo practitioner, the opponent will not even know they’ve been hit (Taekwondo theory of speed and power) until they are lying on the ground, like a discarded piece of garbage. This may seem harsh, but the reality is that rapists and murderers are rife, and sometimes in order to protect your life, such action is vital. The student will learn how to double their power using the tools at their disposal, their own body. The mental conditioning learned serves well in all other aspects of life. Dealing with bereavement, losses and the trials of life become easier.

Taekwondo’s code forbids unfair assaults or unnecessary use of force. The practice of Taekwondo gives an individual an empowered metal attitude and modesty. It is true to say that the virtues of modesty and generosity are fundamentally based on self-confidence, and self-confidence also makes people generous in their attitudes towards weaker people.

Taekwondo is an excellent method of cardiovascular fitness. Within a month of training, you will sleep better. Your body will become more efficient at disposing waste, and the blood will circulate better through the body, preventing the development of coronary heart disease in the future. Blood vessels and arteries will become more supple, blood pressure will fall, and a general feeling of well-being will result. Many people who start Taekwondo, even in their thirties and forties speak of a feeling of energy in their day to day lives, how their working day becomes more productive, resulting in career development, promotions at work and new ideas being formed in their heads. Packing up and taking a new job, taking risks, professional and personal, become less daunting if the mind is unclouded and the outlook is positive.

Women can benefit tremendously from training. The body becomes more toned, and excess fat on the hips and legs is burned away from the special Taekwondo exercises. Weight loss is guaranteed, and a flat, toned abdominal region will result. Taekwondo exercises can develop a firm, solid stomach. For women who have given birth, Taekwondo is the way to regain your figure, tightening you body again, and strengthening the pelvic muscles, which are weakened through child-birth. Taekwondo is a total body workout from head to today. Fads such as Tae Bo are based on Taekwondo (Billy Blanks is a keen Taekwondo student), the exercises are all found within the art. Muscle tension and release exercises, they have to be experienced!

Taekwondo is a great way to get fit and build confidence in children. Taekwondo sets kids on the right path from an early age. Children who start Taekwondo, tend to remain physically fit into adulthood, and have less chance of becoming ill. Once they realize how Taekwondo is benefiting them, they will do nothing to jeopardize their training (junk food, smoking, drugs, alcohol, etc). They will learn to respect their bodies and people around them, becoming more generous human beings.

People require solace in today’s fast paced world, hence the popularity in self-help, motivational theories and self-development. People are turning to Eastern philosophies in search of peace of mind, happiness and inner warmth. Taekwondo can provide that, it can provide strength of mind, body and spirit, and alleviate the stresses and pressures of modern life.

London will host the next Olympics, 2012, as we know, Taekwondo is the only martial art recognised by the International Olympic Committee, so we will see a greater coverage of Taekwondo in the media in the next few years. So, overall, there is a favourable situation to the practice of Taekwondo in Britain.

People want to go out to find new friends, meet new people. There is no better way to do this than to join a club, where you will meet like minded people. People who care about their own health will be capable of caring for others, and friends like that are invaluable. Apart from just training, people can chat before classes, have fun training with their new friends, encourage each other to go that step further, to push themselves, congratulate them on successful execution of techniques, console them if they ever hit a plateau, and be there for each other, even staying after class to assist in stretching, techniques, etc. Taekwondo is a very social sport, and team-building is actively encouraged.

There have been many technological advances in Taekwondo. Numerous CDs and DVDs are now available, so that techniques practiced in class can be revised at home. Although a black belt instructor is vital, home study via computer or internet can greatly assist and make the learning process much faster. You will be bitten by the Taekwondo bug!

If still undecided about whether to take positive steps to radically transform your life, consider this quote:

“Choosing a goal may cause only a slight change in your life’s direction at first. It’s like one of those huge freighters at sea: If the captain shifts course by just a few degrees, it won’t be noticeable immediately. But in several hours or days, this change in direction will bring the ship to a completely different destination.”

Martial Arts Online

Martial Arts Online

Ok, just thought I’d write this somewhere!

If you’re around, please drop in and say hi!

Martial Arts Centre
17 London Road
Tue: 7.45pm – 8.45pm
Sat: 12pm – 1pm

Anderston Mel-Milaap Centre
34 Berkeley Street
Wed: 7pm – 8pm

My Contact Details

Mobile: 07980 077 568


Martial Arts Online

Martial Arts Online

Welcome to Martial Arts Online.

I’m Ahsan Mustafa, I’m 29 years old, currently living in Glasgow, Scotland.

I’ve been practicing martial arts, namely, the art of taekwondo for around ten years.

I first started when I was about eleven years old, but then had to quit, as I didn’t have transport, and there wasn’t always someone available to take me to classes.

I then restarted when I was 19, and I had a bit more independence and freedom. I had a car, my own spending money etc.

Being an avid fan of martial arts movies such as those of Bruce Lee, as a child, playing with my dad’s old taekwondo belt (he got as far as yellow belt green tags), and reading this enormous encyclopedia of taekwondo, I came across a small ad for ‘kung fu‘ classes in the local community newspaper. I didn’t know of any taekwondo clubs in my hometown of Cumbernauld, so I asked my uncle to take me there. We went to the town hall, where the instructor was, oddly, taking down names and addresses of people, and he would contact them later. I was disappointed, as I was raring to train.

Just as we were leaving, we heard some loud shouting in another hall. We went next door, and in a stark contrast to the unruly and undisciplined ‘kung fu’ students we had just met, we saw rows of smartly dressed students in crisp white suits, called ‘doboks‘ training in strict, regimented, straight lines.

This is what I wanted and needed. We met the instructor, Master Andy Brown, who said he would be pleased to have me as one of his students.

I was thrilled, and my journey had finally began. There was no going back, and the course of my life had changed forever.

I am now a taekwondo instructor, 2nd degree black belt, and I teach at my own club, with a great bunch of students, who I love to bits.