He challenged me to write more about my martial arts journey, to be more personal, and to risk the occasional push back you inevitably get of "that sh*t would never work." Well, in any altercation, you can lose. You can lose if you are carrying a concealed firearm. You can lose if you field an army of half a million men with the latest equipment money can buy. So, sure I can lose, for all the training, I am older and there are plenty of guys with strength and skills I can never match.
What I am doing is shifting where I stand on the bell curve, training to be the best I can, to carry the skills, the mindset, and the will with me, whether or not I ever use it in a real world altercation. Along the way I am learning a lot of other things. What it is to practice something that is hard to master, dedicating myself to the hours of time I put in every week, the extra activities I have added to build my core strength and my aerobic fitness, the simple perseverance of spending 300+ hours a year on the mat.
I read an article by Kara Stewart about her Aikido journey. I have experienced many of the same things she writes about. But in it, she says something I want to quote:
"A few months ago, our dojo had a booth at a health fair to share information about Aikido in general and our dojo in particular to any prospective students who might be interested.
One woman walked up, scanned the flyers, thumbed through some books, and looked at the photos.
“I want to know Aikido, but I don’t want to learn it,” she said.
That could be true of anything. What people want is to download Kung Fu like Neo did in The Matrix. Nothing works like that. One more quote from Kara:It took me a few seconds to realize the profundity of her statement—and the nearly universal human sentiment it held. She wanted to BE a master of something without expending the effort and time necessary to BECOME a master."
"Aikido is helping me learn that my progress—in anything—is up to me. Whatever I want to study in life, mastery is possible if I commit to making the effort and dedicating myself for the long term. I may never be the best Aikido student, the best horse trainer, or the best writer in the world. However, I can make the commitment to becoming the best Aikido student, horse trainer, and writer that I am capable of being. All it takes is my commitment, dedication, and practice. Lots and lots of practice."