Breathe a Little Deeper
Who we are is best remembered when we shine. As individuals we strive to accomplish different goals in life. I think it is both important and definitive which goals we set for ourselves. The path of accomplishment is different for all. I have found that To Shin Do is a crucial path for me. Since I began training in 2009, I have been advised, instructed, supported and celebrated by my teachers and training partners. I have always felt encouraged to do my best as well as find new ways to appreciate what I am learning.
Many years ago a friend told me he had just received his black belt in another martial art. I was both impressed and somewhat envious. I told him I wished I could do that. All he said was, "You can". This was my first step. I only needed to take it. Once I decided what I wanted I still had to find where to get it. My daughter found the Quest Center through the internet. We watched a level 3 class before our first lesson. I was immediately certain that I had found the right path for my martial arts training. I am still not clear why I was certain. I just was.
I find that To Shin Do allows for a dialogue rather than an argument based on force. I have gained confidence in my ability to take control of a situation rather than dominate it. To me controlling a situation means constantly adapting the response for the current situation. Dominating the situation comes from a predetermined idea to overpower (smash and destroy). The ability to control allows for more possible (and perhaps favorable) outcomes. I consider To Shin Do to be a martial art placing more emphasis on the situation rather than the tactical victory. It is a kinder, gentler art. This awareness has also made me a kinder, gentler person. I find I have more compassion and courage as a result of my training. Both are essential to the art of winning.
Of course I have had a few moments of self doubt. How could I learn to recite the Code of Mindful Action? There are too many words to remember. For me the Code of Mindful Action was easier to remember once I started to contemplate its meaning. This has had the desired effect to encourage me to consider how I want to be in life. I find I often recall a specific portion of the Code when it is relevant to a particular situation.
I have also doubted my ability to learn and demonstrate my To Shin Do kata. I have watched my senior students perform techniques that I thought were too difficult for me. Backward break falls from a hip throw, cartwheels and dive rolls have all seemed to be obstacles. Now they are my techniques. The self doubt that blocked my way forward has melted away through good instruction and perseverance. The future is still cluttered with self doubt but the power of the doubt is diminished by accomplishment. I believe in myself. I can accomplish my goals.
I have found it is useful to re-evaluate my goals from time to time. A straight forward goal like getting my black belt has expanded to include who I want to be when I get it. This includes both my skill at To Shin Do and how I interact with people in general. The movement through life (like in combat) should always be adjusted based on the current situation. The change is inevitable but making things better is the art of winning. This is why I train.
For me the reward for training is both short and long term. Many people focus on the long term goal (like getting the next belt or shodan level). As I have trained more over time I find I can better appreciate the short term reward. I enjoy looking for the incremental improvement that comes with each class. It is the everyday success that keeps the training interesting and fun. I always feel better after training. Dojo time improves my concentration, mood and general happiness.
All of these training accomplishments have been possible because of the good support and skill of my training partners. I have worked to develop trust and to be trustworthy as an uke. I am grateful for the time and effort given to me by each person I have worked with in the Dojo.
I have found an art that encourages me to be better in many ways. The way I see the world has become more detailed, practical and accepting. They way I see myself has changed in the same way. I will strive to conduct my life with compassion and integrity.
I have found a path, a group of friends and a desire to get a bit more out of life. Who wouldn't want that? I am left only to consider the way forward.... and take a deep breath.
To see Jay test for his Black Belt, please sign up for Winter Warrior 2014