“Don’t cry, don’t show your opponent you’re hurt. Don’t let him know he’s got the best of you,” my Sensei would say. “Be tough, be strong! If he sees the tears swelling in your eyes, he will know you’re hurt.”
These words are burned into my brain as a child and as a teacher now, they keep coming back to me. In the “old” days, we trained martial arts for serious reasons – someone was going to hurt you or worse. There was no such thing as cardio kickboxing, Taebo etc. We learned martial arts to defend ourselves, forget conditioning or feeling healthy – gratification came after you’ve successfully defended yourself.
My senseis developed our internal strength as well as the physical. Some sensei were relentless, almost brutal. The y wanted to see what we were made of. Many years ago a military boxing coach told me before accepting a candidate, he would have them skip rope to test their mettle. If they could not endure that, he would not accept them
I’ve said many time sin class, adversity comes in many forms. It could be a person trying to hurt you (mentally or physically), loss of a loved one, loss of your job, relocation, a math problem, ego, etc. How we overcome and on is important. “If you fall down six times, get up seven.” Too many times I see people don’t know how to “get back up”.
Why> They’ve been “picked up” too many times. They were not taught this quality of strength. The seed needs to be planted at a young age and nurtured in the formative years and beyond. Parents often intervene for their children instead of letting them fend for themselves. Children must experience situations and learn to overcome their own fears. Parents need to give their children chance to grow, and solve their own problems. In our dojo, our goal is to make our students strong by conditioning their minds as well as their bodies. It is counter-productive to give in to one’s whim, when it gets challenging. As the saying goes “The true measure of a man is how he performs in adverse conditions.”
I want our students to be able to stand up and overcome adversity in all forms.
My sensei were not easy on me and for that I am a stronger person. I want that for my students. A person may or may not face one attacker in his whole life but will face many other forms of adversity in one day. How one overcomes them is important. My job is to condition students to be strong, to learn how to overcome challenges – only if you allow me to.
Sensei V. Young, 7th Dan Shotokan www.CamarilloShotokan.com
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