Are you interested or committed to your martial art? There’s a big difference.
"When you're interested in something,
you will do it when it's convenient.
When you're committed to something,
you will do it no matter what."
Those who are interested will practice their martial art when it’s convenient for them. If something more interesting is going on or they don’t feel like going to class that day, they don’t show up. They may even schedule appointments or other events at the same time as class. They often miss more classes then they attend in a month. They soon start to slip further and further behind in their training and will most-likely never achieve a 1st dan black belt or higher.
Those who are committed to their art have a different attitude. They schedule class times and practice times on their calendar and see those time slots as non-negotiable. That’s THEIR time. No one else can take that time from them. They organize their life and schedules to be there, even if they aren’t 100% motivated that day, they know that showing up always makes them feel better. They know that being great at something is never convenient. It takes the three D’s… dedication, determination, discipline and desire. They don’t make excuses. They embody their craft. They make it known to their friends and family that their practice time is a core value that makes up who they are as a person. They don’t do it for the rank or the recognition, they do it because they ARE a martial artist, not someone who occasionally does a martial art.
Are their times in which someone who is committed to their art misses a class or personal practice?
Yes, but it’s rare.
They might miss if they are extremely ill or have a major event (wedding, graduation, funeral, school/work function, religious event or the occasional vacation.) In some cases, work/school schedules might interfere with class times and the committed student might seek private lessons or contact their Sensei with questions on how best to practice on their own until their schedule changes.
Making a commitment to something requires making sacrifices in your life that most people won’t do or understand. Commitment means living a life that most people will never achieve.
"It's one thing to have
a black belt in karate.
It's another thing
to BE one."
*You can change the word “martial art” for anything you value and commit to in your life. Nourishing a great marriage, being a wonderful parent, having a healthy and fit body, building a successful business or achieving greatness in a field of study all take a level of great commitment.
I was recently thinking back on my training as a martial artist. When I started as a white belt there were about 20 other students in my dojo's beginner class. Of the 20 students, only 4 of us from that original group made it to black belt.
It wasn't that we were more talented than the others. Nor were we afforded more opportunity. We weren't necessarily the most athletic, physically fit or more youthful either. The ages of my black belt awards ceremony ranged from early 20s to age 50!
But, we did have something that the others from our original class lacked... Perseverance and ritual.
I think we all know what perseverance is. It's that gritty, never-give-up attitude. It's a commitment to stick it out no matter what challenges came your way. However, I believe that perseverance is enhanced by ritual. A ritual is a method of following a specific process on a regular basis. This process, if done frequently becomes a habit. A habit becomes a consistent way of life. This ritualistic process creates a mental connection that leads to success.
Let me give you an example. Watch a professional basketball player when he goes up to the free-throw line during a game. The really good free throw shooters have a ritual they follow. They position their feet a certain way. They dribble the ball a certain number of times. They breathe a specific way. Then they position the ball in their hands just so and release the ball towards the basket the same way every time. All of this comes from consistent practice. If they follow their ritual, 90% of the time they will experience a successful shot.
Karate is also built around ritual. We attend class at the same times each week. We wear our uniform (Gi) a certain way. We bow in a specific way as we enter and exit the dojo. We perform exercises the same way. We line up and perform kata in a particular way. We have our routines and processes. All of this is a ritual for success.
Think of a big boulder near a stream. The consistent flow of water over the boulder smoothes the rough edges and makes the boulder round. Over more time, the water can even cut through the boulder creating a smooth passage. It is the same in karate, the more often we do these rituals the more we develop in our training. Over time, just like the boulder we become smooth.
It is the same with anything in life that you wish to succeed in. In developing positive rituals we each can persevere and pave the way to our success.
Here are some ideas on rituals you can incorporate into your life.
Rituals are powerful. They reinforce success in whatever goals you are working towards. Commit to making rituals part of your daily life and you will find you can accomplish more than you ever imagined!
Remember: the only ones who don't succeed are those that quit. It's persistence and ritual that wins the battle every time.
Vashon Borich-Leach, Sensei teaches traditional karate and tai chi in Branson, Missouri. She considers herself a life-time student of the arts. Her blog is an open journal of lessons learned in the martial arts. If you are a martial artist and would like to contribute to her blog please contact her.
©2012 Branson Karate & Kobudo™