When you watch, hear or read about the person who has excelled at the martial arts, do you wonder how they did it? Do you think to yourself that they had special talents? Or do you have the mindset that if they can do it, so can you?
I used to ponder how the great martial artists did it. Were they simply lucky? Do they have special talents or attributes that I lacked, or some other obvious advantage? Perhaps they had a secret that if I could only discover what it was, would guide me to my own personal martial greatness.
These burning questions founded a lifelong quest for answers. But before I divulge what I learned – and how you can benefit from it – allow me to share a bit of my story with you.
When I first started searching for these answers (about 30 years ago) I was just a young teenager. I had started taking karate lessons for all the wrong reasons. You see, growing up in a less than pleasant neighborhood, I had already been in several flights at a young age. My thought process went something like this… ” if I could learn karate, I can win the fights against the older kids.” Like I said, all the wrong reasons.
Having a very intuitive instructor, he cautioned us younger students that using his techniques in fights at school would result in getting kicked out of the club. I thought that if I could simply not fight for six months and learn all I could, I would have more than enough secrets and tricks to give me the advantages I was looking for.
A tremendous amount has changed since then. Take it from me, participation in a good traditional martial art is probably one of the best things for a child or youth growing up with a little extra energy. My attitude turned around completely, and I have gone on to achieve black belts in three different styles of martial art, and have trained with some of the best in the world. Most rewarding though was seeing the transformation of people’s lives as they trained in some of my classes, or at the clubs I was teaching in. One of my most prized possessions in life is a thank you card from a group of young ladies who just completed one of my three month female self-defense courses.
So what was it that fueled my fire to keep going for over three decades? The word is passion. I was passionate about the pursuit of martial excellence. Lack of motivation is never a problem when you simply have enough passion. I woke up in the morning considering the times I could train that day. I would be excited to talk to people about techniques and training methods. I was simply happy to be at every martial arts class that I could.
One of the most significant lessons I learned:
” The more I practice, the luckier I get.” You may have heard this quote before. The huge contributing factor to the success I achieved in the martial arts is to simply keep at it. It sounds deceptively simple doesn’t it? But if you have trained for any length of time, allow me to ask you a question. How many people have you observed show up very excited, they buy the three month package complete with t-shirt, and simply drop off a short while later? How many? Most people seem to be content to give up. But because I was so passionate in my pursuit of martial knowledge, the thought of quitting never entered my mind.
So I just kept at it. Sure I did some silly things like engaging in training practices that were less effective, or downright dumb in retrospect. I wasted my time on training gadgets that didn’t live up to the promises but I kept at it. But the silly experiments, and training mistakes made me a little wiser. Having trained alongside some very accomplished martial artists, I see this one trait ringing true amongst them all.
They just kept at it.
So do not quit. Your odds of wearing that black belt, or achieving whatever goal you are pursuing, are infinitely greater if you simply keep at it. One thing is certain, you cannot achieve your goal if you stop trying to achieve it. Keep at it.
Modern Samurai Society – Standing United We Pack a Punch
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