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Perseverance in Training

By Clarence Fischer

From the Spring 2003 Newsletter

One of the most important aspects of your training is research in the U.S. since the 1980's into fall prevention and balance control in the elderly. It is estimated that one-third to one-half of the population aged 65 years and older fall each year, and these falls can result in serious injury and even death. By 2030, the number of older Americans is expected to double from 35 million to 70 million.

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One of the most important aspects of your training is something that is not exactly as tangible as a certain exercise or technique. Instead, it is more of an attitude or way of thinking that you should embrace in order to further yourself in the arts. The quality that I speak of is the namesake of this article: perseverance.

The first thing necessary to understand is the actual meaning of the word. Webster's Dictionary defines perseverance as "...persist[ing] in any purpose or idea; to strive in spite of difficulties or obstacles." This can be applied to all aspects of your training whether physical, mental, or spiritual. It can also become one of the best qualities of a martial artist.

Perserverance can be applied to all aspects of your training whether physical, mental, or spiritual.

The physical aspect of perseverance is the simplest to apply. This deals with your actual practice, be it forms, techniques, sparring, etc. The repeating of forms and techniques over and over again is the foundation for not only discipline (and I'm sure some would argue torture) but muscle memory. How many times have you been in class and done the same thing over and over? Plenty. This is physical perseverance and it leads to perfection in whatever you are attempting to master.

When you hear Grand Master say, "We're going to burn this in," he is referring to this repeated movement in order to develop not only mental memory, but muscle memory as well.

The next aspect to investigate is mental perseverance. Within this discipline you will find much the same attitude as in the physical aspect, however it will be applied to your mental studies, the simplest of which is your ability to pay attention to your training, in class or otherwise.

When you are on the floor you should not heed any extraneous thoughts. Now, since we are all human and subject to the monkey mind, this becomes a great challenge, especially in the earlier years of training. Constant attendance and consistent quality practice time will help alleviate the wandering mindset.

Also included in the mental aspect of perseverance is meditation training. Since this is a highly personal venture and there are such a great number of methods used I will only say that you should never discontinue this training, no matter how slow your progress or even if you believe you are not currently progressing. Remember, this is one of the hardest, and highest levels, of martial training there is.

You should do everything to the best of your abilities, even down to your own breathing.

Spirituality (which has dual meaning in this context) is the next aspect to examine. For some, this involves the beliefs of several different religions and/or deities. For others, it involves a personal philosophy, which is usually a mixture of several different religions or schools of thought. Since everyone follows their own path when it comes to spirituality, and since no one can discredit anyone else's philosophy—due to the simple fact that they're deceased if they can—I will only say that perseverance in this particular category involves much study and introspection.

Don't be satisfied by what you're brought up with. Investigate for yourself and be open to other disciplines. Do what works for you, but ultimately, you must do something or you are missing out on one-third of your proper training.

The other aspect of the spirit is your attitude toward training itself. Do you do it with full vigor? Are you active in your kwoon? Do you make all your classes? Do you practice proper wu-de? The questions could go on and on.

The point is that you should do everything to the best of your abilities, even down to your own breathing. This is the way to perfection. Of course no man or woman can answer "yes" to all of the questions that could be posed. Again, we are all human, however you must always strive for your personal best, and then surpass it.

The purpose of this article is not to tell you what to do or how to do it, but, rather, to incite you into introspection so that you may further your training as only you can do. Also, keep in mind that I have only scratched the surface in terms of areas and ways to persevere.

Right away I can think of areas left untouched in this article such as home-practice or home-study such as reading and research. Only you know where you are truly lacking; only you know what your personal beliefs are; and only you know where you will need to apply the most vigor.

There is one other person that has a good idea though, and that is your teacher. Don't be afraid to ask for help or recommendation.

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