Many videogames these days are pretty complicated.  So that you don’t feel completely overwhelmed, they typically offer a tutorial.  It’s basically a pre-level that walks you through all the moves.

Some games have this as a separate option on the menu.  Some games put hints all over the first level or two.  Some games are incredibly clever and run the tutorial by you without you ever knowing it (Megaman X stands out in this regard).

The tutorial, however, is effectively level zero.

shifu

If you look at the belt system as used in Korea and Japan, something stands out if you’re paying attention.

I first encountered this in the popular Asian board game, Go, actually.  In Japanese Go circles, players are ranked on two systems.  There is the kyu (Korean: gup) system that counts down.  First kyu is the highest kyu rank.  Seventh or Eighth is down there.  Then, when you have surpassed first kyu, you move on to first dan (Korean: dan).  Dan ranks count upwards.

Pictured: Dan.
Pictured: Dan.

In effect, first dan is level one.  The kyu/gup ranks are the tutorial.  Level zero.

So, if I ever make it to black belt, all that means is I’ve finished the tutorial.

Conversely, it also means I’ve learned the moves I need to play the game.

So there is no cause for boasting in the black belt, and much cause for rehashing the others.  The paradox of dan: to finally begin; to never stop beginning.

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