Whilst what is written here is on the subject of Martial Arts, the advice on offer can be applied to all walks of life by people wanting to better themselves and achieve the achievable…because it’s all achievable. There is nothing we can’t do if we are willing to face our ‘Shugyo’. I was talking to a student of mine recently who had an important belt test coming up. She confessed to me that as she was getting higher up the grades, she was really feeling the pressure. She also confessed to having taken a dislike to sparring. After listening to her carefully I gave her my opinion. “It’s difficult isn’t it?” I both asked and stated. The student looked at me like I had two heads but it was difficult to say anything different because quite simply it is difficult. “The better we get at something the harder it becomes to progress”. I told the student and let it sink in. Then I gave her the good news. “The thing is, the harder the tests, the bigger the rewards. Some people will get to your stage and that’s that for them and they are fine with that, but by the very fact that your are asking me questions about your next step means you must really want to find out what it is like to move up the ladder. It means that you aren’t done yet. I’ll tell you shall I, the tea up here is a lot sweeter.”
My good friend again started counting how many heads I had as I was clearly making no sense so I told her about my cup of tea. “Some years ago, surprisingly enough after I obtained my first Black Belt, I was accepted as an instructor into a leading Martial Arts Association (The BCA). Once I was accepted I was encouraged to travel away from home to train on Instructor’s courses. When the date was sent for the next one I would be excited at the prospect until the Friday before the Sunday’s course came around. I would suddenly develop a cold or an old injury would flare up. Come Sunday morning I would be unable to travel. Instead I would console myself with a cup of tea and a movie for the Sunday afternoon. Whilst the tea was sweet, it could have been sweeter. I would spend the afternoon fretting and trying to convince myself that I hadn’t bottled it. As five o’clock came around I would feel regret as this would be the time I would be arriving home should I have made the journey. I would chastise myself by saying ‘it would have been all over by now and I would have another string to my bow by beating my fear’.