Be a martial artist not someone who trains a couple of times a week
The difference may not seem that important at first glance but for me it’s immense. If you are just someone who trains in martial arts - you turn up, do your training, go home and forget about it until the next time. There is no reason for you to act or in fact be any different when you’re outside the dojo. To you, it’s just training and the black belt is the goal and if you hit it -that’s great- but if not that’s ok too. You don’t need to change too much about your life and if there is a match on TV or there is something else to do that, at that point in time, seems more interesting - then you will have a night off. After all, you deserve it - you work hard! And for a lot of people that is how it is, it’s something you do not someone you are.
But stop for a minute and think how that would be if you applied it to other areas of your life. If being a father just meant turning up and doing what you had to do then getting on with your life. Apply it to being a husband, wife, son or daughter. You wouldn’t be half the person you are. Martial means war, the conflict is not with your training partners it’s with yourself. If you define yourself as a martial artist, you need to live up to what you claim to be. You hold yourself to a higher standard, and you certainly don’t just “train” - you invest. You invest your time and your energy in yourself in your personal growth. You ask yourself questions that others don’t ever think of: how will eating this effect my body? If I don’t train will I lose skill? Can I get a run it before work? Can I read over my manual to get what sensei showed me last night in my head deeper? ‘Do rightly’ is no longer an option - you are a martial artist and ‘do rightly’ is for the people who just train. For you learning the skill is the skill. Learning is part of your growth and your development. You can’t just get by - you want to be the best you can be. You don’t measure yourself against the other students - you measure yourself against who you used to be. You know your flaws and faults and you know they stand in your way so you take action to diminish them by focusing on development. Will you go out on a Saturday night get drunk and get into a fight? No! because that’s not what martial artists do. They learn to fight so they don’t have to. They learn to fight so they understand the rules of the game. They understand that “what are you looking at”? is not a question it’s an invitation to aggression and you don’t need to accept the invite. If its forced upon you you have the tools at hand to finish it quickly and effectively.
Being a martial artist is a state of mind. I don’t know at what point students get it or believe it - but for them to be successful they need to get it. You are what you think you are. That’s not to say anyone who thinks they are a great martial artist is! What it’s saying is that if you start acting like a martial artist you start to look like one. The key to success is sticking at it. Most of the people I started training with stopped. They just gave up because it was hard, or the Sensei expected too much from them. I didn’t understand it at the time. I do now, they just trained. They didn’t understand that the Sensei saw what they could be, not what they were. He saw the overweight as slim and with toned muscles; he saw the unco-ordinated kid as someone who could make something of him or herself - because they had a bit of passion in their eyes. They were, to be honest, pretty poor at Ju Jitsu but they had heart and they turned up to class with an eagerness to learn. That unco-ordinated kid was me. I was terrible at Ju-Jitsu, I had little to no co-ordination – I was 9.5st and I got thrown around like a rag doll. Much as I tried to learn - I struggled. But in the struggle is the growth. In the struggle you learn that the struggle is the doorway to skill.
Many people don’t want to struggle, that’s ok – maybe you were not meant to be a martial artist. However, I believe that there are many more who do want to meet the challenge and hit it head on, but fear stops them. Fear makes them weak and that fear grows the more they give into it. Be a martial artist - emerse yourself in the fear and you will soon find out that it’s only an illusion that it is what has been holding you back for so long - and when you face it - it will diminish, and what will be left is a Martial artist.
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