Published by Russell Kelley, Sensei · 5 September 2022
While we train together, learn together, and attend ceremonies together, the martial arts are truly a personal journey. The passion, patience, and practice it takes to succeed in martial arts must come from within.
“Everyone in this world has only to live up to their own expectations not the expectations of another.”
On the surface, it’s easy to see how achievements belong to the individual. Each student is unique and progresses at their own pace. You must do the work yourself and for yourself. Your dedication and ambition affect only you; your pacing is your own; your abilities lie solely within yourself. The pursuits of others will not be affected by your failures or successes.
“The goals you set are your goals not that of anyone else. Set your goals and aim to achieve them, just make sure you do not aim too high, for some goals are not always meant to be reached.”
When a student personally achieves a new belt level, it will have different meanings for different people. For some, it is a representation of hard work and dedication. For others, it is a representation of technical ability. And for others still, it is a motivational tool that represents how much further they have yet to go. There are as many meanings behind belt levels as there are martial artists practicing today.
“All knowledge leads to self-knowledge.”
When learning a technique, students are taught the “textbook” motions of it, but through practice and repetition, the student slowly makes it their own. Perhaps you have a physical condition that limits a certain movement and causes you to perform the move differently. Perhaps you must adjust the technique based on the relative size of your opponent. When you have internalized all the teachings and techniques and express them through the filter of who you are, is when it is truly becoming your personal journey.
The true essence of martial arts is the personal journey of continuous self-improvement mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Through the practice of martial arts, we inherit confidence, mental strength, courage, tenacity, work ethic, humility, compassion, integrity, kindness, respect, honor, discipline, and much more.