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™