Longevity (part 1 of 2)

Longevity … or length of life, life span, lifetime; durability, endurance, resilience, strength, robustness.

In the mid 90's I was living in Minneapolis studying at university and training at Rick Fayeʼs MKG.  As I was a student, I didn't usually have a lot of money to spend on training.  Knowing this, Rick was good enough to allow me to clean the gym as necessary in exchange for not paying monthly dues.  I loved this arrangement and spent A LOT of time in the gym 5 and 6 days a week.  “Gym Rat” was a good descriptor.  During this time I suffered an injury to my lower back which caused me to miss training for a period of weeks.  When I had gotten through the worst of the injury I went back to the gym to pick up my training.  When I met with some of my training partners, I found out to my dismay that they had learned many new techniques while I was gone.  I now felt as though I was “behind” the rest of my peers and became very dismayed.  Rick saw this in me and asked me what was wrong.  I told him what I was feeling and he just chuckled and shared with me 2 specific truths that have guided and enriched my training ever since.  I would like to share them with you, and hopefully you will find them as beneficial I did.

The first truth: As serious martial artists we plan on training for the rest of our lives.  In other words...you've got time.  Youʼre in this for the long haul...so there doesn't need to be a feeling of hurry or panic.  Knowing this, we can relax and enjoy our journey without getting hung up on focusing on “the goal.”  If you get tired of training and you need a break, sometimes all you need is to change up your routine to give you more variety.  BUT if you really need to take a break...take one so that you can come back even more focused and motivated to meet your personal goals.  Either way, understand that you are doing this for the long haul not just for the next “2 years” or whatever.  If you are a lifelong martial artist, youʼve got time...so relax.  Youʼll get more out of your experiences, youʼll enjoy your time more, and youʼll be a happier person as a result.

In the beginning of my personal journey I was always focused on the “prize” of the coveted Black Belt.  After my first dan grading I came to realize that the journey was the prize.  Sure rank will follow training, but rank in itself is a totally futile and empty goal.  If all I had to draw me to train was the thought of another instructor ranking or belt I would tire very quickly.  However, the lessons learned, the people met and friends made, the lives affected... these are prizes worth pursuing.  It is very easy to learn how to hurt someone.  That objective comes quickly with diligent training.  Changing our environments just by virtue of the fact that we are there.  Seeking to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer.  Learning to be a leader and positive influence in peoples lives… now those is a worthy goals. These can only be done by being “in the journey” and not fixated only on a distant, artificial end.  I am not saying that it is bad to be motivated to achieve things in your training... far from that.  I am just suggesting that the journey is far more important than “the goal” because the true prize is found in your daily experiences and relationships.

See the "second truth" in Longevity pt.2

Blessings and Strength!
John