Sunday, October 26, 2008


I see it all the time. Usually after a month or two of training. The student starts ratcheting up the techniques, possibly hurting one of the other students. They start asking "why" all the time. You can see the frustration in their eyes when it is not as simple or as easy as they thought. The possibility that maybe they "just can't get it" begins to surface. They become overwhelmed. Some will give in to the stress and quit.

It doesn't have to be like that.

In a way, martial arts is all about trust. Trusting your teachers, trusting your fellow students, trusting yourself. Let me explain.

Trusting Your Teachers
Those of you who know me know I am all about doing very careful diligence before you start training somewhere. Know your teacher; know his/her pedigree; know how he/she thinks and believes. Take a few trial classes. Talk to other students. Check references. Read his/her book. Do your diligence as if your life depended on it (since your martial arts life actually might). But having done that and satisfied yourself, it is time to let him/her do their job.

Give them the tools to help you by showing up at class prepared and energized and participating fully in the lessons. It is good to not ask too much in the first few months, since you will need a frame of reference to ask intelligent questions (your framework is still developing during that initial time). In addition, the learning curve is steep at the beginning as the framework comes together - the answer is usually a lesson or two away anyway. Keep a journal or a blog to document your thoughts and feelings - and then concentrate on the class.

Your teachers have thought out what they are doing. There is rhyme and reason and pace involved in the lesson plan. Trust that they will take you forward at the rate you can handle.
"The years teach much the days do not know"

Trusting your fellow Students
You can see the look in each others' eyes as you pair up - "please don't hurt me"... We are all a little afraid at the beginning. Good fellow students help motivate you and bring out the best during the lessons. Because we are all different, we will be mentors to some and others will be mentors to us. The scope of the training allows for individual excellence as we all progress different skills at different speeds. The fellowship of schoolmates in martial arts can be a very powerful bond, not unlike soldiers in wartime. We trust our safety to each other when we train. We trust each other to be just who we are, and to give it all for the sake of our training. Trust your fellow students to show up and be motivated like you are; to carry you when you are weak, and to be carried by you when you are strong.

Trusting Yourself
You can do this. All things happen for a reason. You came to the school with your own objectives. Leave with them fulfilled. Become the person you want to be. I realize it can be frustrating to want too much too soon, but try to be patient with yourself. relax, and let the magic happen. Be diligent in your practice, and let the training do the rest.

Becoming a Black Belt
a student asked the master "how long until I can be a black belt?"
the master replied "at least 10 years".
"10 years? Too Long! what if I practice 4 hours a day?" asked the student.
"at least 20 years" replied the master.
The student was shocked. "I don't understand. what if that is all I do, night and day?"
"Then at least 30 years", said the master.


Relax and enjoy it!

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