Over the last twenty plus years that I have been a student of the martial arts I have seen many people come and go. In the beginning, I was amazed at the beauty and grace of an advanced practitioner and their abilities. Later I learned not to be impressed with the outer display of skill, but on the true character and strength of the few true masters I had run across and have come to cherish their very being and what they represent.
People like Ernie Reyes Sr, David Meyers, Bas Rutten, Tom Callos… and a host of others I have met… these are true masters of the art, understanding the path of the martial arts and not just mere practitioners. It is not the arts themselves that are the truth, but like the seed being planted in the ground, under the right leadership, the harvest produces phenomenal human beings that walk the walk and are the perfect role models for others.
From these individuals I have learned quite a few things that have impacted my life and one of the prominent is the four “If’s” of being a true warrior.
The first “If” is you are a true warrior if you continue to learn.
A true warrior reviews his experience and learns from it. If you have trained under a good teacher for a few years, then that is a good piece of time to learn from that experience. Take time to evaluate that experience and learn from that. Also, learn from other peoples experiences, what we call OPE, other peoples experiences. Over the last 5 years you have probably had a lot of opportunities to learn and the question is, did you take advantage of those chances. Imagine someone training for 30 years and then you have the opportunity to take advantage of all that knowledge in a one day seminar. Wow, powerful. Well, that is if you took advantage and went to the seminar. Have you read the “Book of Five rings” or “The Art of War” recently? For the person that is reading the right books, attending seminars, the daily training… what a small price to pay for the ultimate reward.
The second “If” is you are a true warrior if you try. When the final chapter on your life is written, have them quote your wins and loses but for heavens sake, don’t have them say you never tried. How do you know if you can achieve anything in life, if you never try? And just because you try it and it doesn’t work the first time, try again. Try it harder, try it faster, use a different angle, use a different team, but don’t give up. A true warrior knows that failure is testing, and that now you know another way that doesn’t work and it is positive feedback to use to find the right way. Taekwondo means path, and any failure simply means you need to change direction slightly to get back on the path on constant and never ending improvement, but never give up. A true warrior always at least tries.
The third “If” is you are a true warrior if you learn to stay. You must learn to hang in there and not give up. Have you noticed in the martial arts, around 80-90% of the students drop out of their training in the first 12 months? Why is that you might ask? Well, it is just one of those things. If you look at a typical university, and look at how many freshman they have and then the number of sophomores, that number drops. In fact it drops every year. They leave, they quit, or they find other paths. It is just one of those mysteries of the mind and instead of racking your brain as to why or feeling guilty because you are not doing something better and taking the blame for them, just recognize it as just one of the truths in life.
But for yourself, make sure you stick to it long enough to reap the reward. Farmers plant in the spring, work the crop all year and then get their harvest in the fall. It is amazing, so many leave before the harvest. As a true warrior you must learn to stay the course.
And the final “If” is you are a true warrior if you care. It is said students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, and that is very true. If you care at all you will get some results but if you care enough, you will have great results. Care enough about yourself and others. Care enough to become all you can be. Care enough to never have to look back with regret that you should have tried more, should have given more, or you should have had bigger dreams.
See you in Class.