What does it mean to have a black belt?

Posted on Posted in Everything, Software Testing

When one talks about martial arts, inevitably the question of rank comes up. People love to know what rank you’ve achieved. One problem with this is that rank is somewhat irrelevant as an indicator to someone’s ability. There are varying standards of ability within a given rank for a given martial art, and there are often misconceptions of what that rank means by people unfamiliar with martial arts (not to mention confusion and devaluation caused by McDojos handing out black belts after a 2 week course).
Average joe non-martial-artist, when told that person x is a black belt (shodan), has a tendency to ooh and aah about how great they must be. There is no shortage of martial arts movies where people kowtow or are otherwise beaten up by the dreaded ‘black belt’. Anyone that has achieved a shodan worth holding will tell you that the only thing it means is that beyond a tenuous grasp of the basics, you have a burgeoning awareness that you know five eighths of bugger all. The vast majority of the journey still lies ahead.

It is with this context firmly in mind that I would describe myself as a software testing shodan. I have an understanding of the basics and I can see just how much I have to learn – and it’s a whole lot. It is my hope that this blog serves as a way to document my understanding and lessons learned about the real-world application of testing. I am not saying I have all the answers, or even that I am trying to teach. More than anything, I am trying to learn. You need to think critically about anything you read here. Further to this, I have a favour to ask of anyone reading this. At some point, I will probably say something that is completely and utterly nonsensical. If I do, please, please call me on it. I genuinely want to know.

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