Jim van Hulst has worked in several leadership functions at EY, ING Bank, ABN AMRO Bank, and Johnson Controls International. His positions have included Director Talent Management, Global Head Professional Development, and Global Learning Technology Leader. Jim has an MSc. in Learning Technology from the University of Sheffield and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Arnhem/Nijmegen. He also holds a diploma in Business Management and Leadership from the Rotterdam School of Management. He completed his MBA in 2020 from MSM, The Netherlands. He is a frequently asked speaker and author of numerous articles. Jim founded Jignite recently in 2021.

A Black Belt’s Guide to Personal and Professional Development

Introduction: A Black Belt’s Guide to Personal and Professional Development

As a black belt in Wado Karate, I’ve spent countless hours honing my skills, refining my techniques, and deepening my understanding of this profound martial art. But the lessons I’ve learned extend far beyond the dojo. They’ve shaped my approach to life, influencing my personal growth and professional journey.

In business

In the world of business, the principles of Wado Karate find a unique and powerful application. The lessons learned in the dojo can be transformative for learners, managers, and directors alike, offering a fresh perspective on personal and professional development. The concept of continuous improvement, or “Kaizen,” is a cornerstone of both Wado Karate and successful business practices.

In the dojo, it’s about refining your techniques and deepening your understanding of the art. In the boardroom, it’s about constantly seeking ways to improve processes, enhance productivity, and foster innovation. Minor improvements, when accumulated over time, can lead to significant growth. This principle is as applicable to mastering a karate technique as it is to improve a business strategy. It encourages a culture of learning and development, where every team member, from interns to CEOs, is committed to personal growth and professional excellence.

For yourself

Perseverance is a key lesson from Wado Karate and equally crucial in the corporate world. The path to success is often troubled with challenges and setbacks. But just as a karateka rises each time they fall, so too must business leaders persevere in the face of hardship. This resilience, this unwavering determination, is what drives you and your company forward, even in the most challenging times.

The harmony of mind and body, a fundamental aspect of Wado Karate, finds its parallel in the balance between personal well-being and professional success. In today’s fast-paced corporate world, it’s essential for you as a leader to maintain this balance, to ensure not just your well-being, but also the health and productivity of your teams.

I believe in the transformative power of these principles. With over 36 years of experience in leadership, learning, and development, I am committed to helping individuals and organizations harness the wisdom of Karate to ignite their potential and drive their success.

In addition, Karate’s emphasis on respect and humility can be a guiding principle in the workplace. Respect for others, for their ideas and contributions, fosters a positive work environment where everyone feels valued. Humility allows us to acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them, a crucial aspect of personal and professional growth.

Finally, the sense of community and camaraderie that is inherent in a dojo can be mirrored in a team or organization. Working towards common goals, supporting each other, and celebrating each other’s successes are all part of a healthy, productive workplace culture.


In essence, the principles and values of Wado Karate offer a unique lens through which to view and approach personal and professional development. They provide a roadmap for continuous growth, resilience, and success in all aspects of life. So, let’s embark on this journey together, harnessing the power of Wado Karate to ignite our potential and transform our lives.

Arigato gozaimasu!

More about karate can be found here:

Read also my article on lifelong learning:


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