I’ve been thinking about how lucky we are in this art to have something that most people in our culture don’t get to have: authentic and meaningful rites of passage.
Cultures and religions around the world have a variety and depth of experiences and rituals to mark important transitional periods in a person’s life. From the Maasai Warrior-Shaving Ceremony in East Africa to the Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah of Jewish tradition and the Vision Quest of Native American custom, these passages serve to challenge and support the individual in developing their unique gifts and strengths for the benefit of the entire community. In effect, they celebrate the life transitions that make us who we are.
Here in the US we have proms and graduations, we have quinceañeras and the big day kids get their driver’s licenses. We have weddings, baby showers and confirmations. However, I’d say we don’t have a lot of authentic and meaningful ways to celebrate our lives as we grow, develop and transition from one stage of life through to the next.
Poekoelan training offers an amazing rite of passage. It’s one of the unique benefits we get when we train this art. The brown sash and black belt tests are milestones that are achieved through a great deal of effort, commitment and hard work. They are also attended and celebrated by the entire community.