Persevere Per-ser-vere (pur-sa-ve'r) to persist; to maintain an effort; not to give in; to work to accomplish a goal despite difficulty. This an important virtue to cultivate in life, especially if one wants to get the most out of their martial arts training. First, you must decide what your goals are. Why are you interested in training in the martial arts? Yes, you can have multiple goals that are both long and short term. They can be self defense, self cultivation, community, and competitive endeavors just to name a few. They do not necessarily need to conflict with each other. However, I must state that if your goal is self defense I personally don't believe in short cuts or magic bullets. Yes, there are some training methods that will produce faster results for the time invested but you have to maintain these skills or they will deteriorate. You can not just learn some cool secret squirrel techniques, stop training and expected to protect yourself when the need arises. It is not a one and done proposition. So, what are your goals? Remember them when times get hard.
My main goal was and is mainly self defense. My goal is simply to be able to protect myself and my loved ones. I avoid trouble and make mature decisions. However, I want to be ready if the need arises. I simply strive to be harder to hurt or kill. I don't say this out of some false sense of bravado. This is just my main influence is pursuing a life of Budo and for training. Along the way I have found other goals that support my main object such as the advantages of a healthy lifestyle and being a better human being. There are many more but they would need a separate blog to do them justice. Bottom line, this is a lifestyle for me, I am compelled to train and to continue to preserve.
My philosophy can be summed up by saying "perseverance through training- persevere to train". What this means is stop making excuses and finding reasons not to train. Find solutions! You exercise perseverance by deciding to train and by training you will build up grit over time. Hey, it is not always going to be easy! Your body and ego will be bruised from time to time. You might even be unfortunate enough to suffer through injuries. I am not saying to make stupid choices and further injure yourself. I am saying use your intelligence and persevere. There is always something that you can safely train even if it is your mind. Read, watch videos, coach and stay active. Don't give up!
To further clarify perseverance let's start from the beginning. You must first decide to begin and step onto the mat. I can not count how many times I've heard the following: "I will begin when I get in shape" or "I use to do martial arts but I will start up again when I get in shape" Why? You are a human being, you can multi-task. Martial arts will help speed up your fitness goals and will remind you why it is important to stay in shape. There are other advantages as well. Remember you are there to learn not to stroke your ego by seeing how many classmates you can best in training. I always view my training partners and opponents in competition as my allies in accomplishing my goals. If they present me challenges I thank them for helping me get better.
The other excuses I hear are I can't afford it or I don't have time. If it is a priority in your life you will find a way. If it is not you will never have the time nor the money. Now before you start getting your torches and pitch forks ready hear the rest of what I have to say. I decided a long time ago that martial arts for me was a "must' and not a "should". To clarify let's put it this way. If something is a "should" you will never do it but if it becomes a "must" you will find a way. I'm not saying this to be rude. I'm just sharing the truth as I know it. If martial arts are not for you that's not a bad thing. There are plenty of paths to take to become a good person that doesn't involve martial arts. Just remember what your goals are and be true to them.
Look I understand what it is like to have a family. You have to give them your best. However, are you giving them your best if you are not taking care of yourself? Remember your goals. So, maybe you cut down to one lesson a week during that period of your life. Maybe you get up early and go to bed late. Perhaps you get the family involved in martial arts to share the experience. Possibly you could be extra helpful around the house and with domestic duties. Do this not as a bribe but in the spirit of showing your spouse appreciation for their sacrifice and understanding.
I'm not preaching from an ivory tower. I have raised a large family and the nest is just now starting to empty. I had a demanding career in the military for 21 years. As anyone that's been in the military will tell you, it is not all about learning hand to hand combat and working on your GI Joe Kung Fu grip. It can be very demanding and taxing on your time and energy in many ways. Also, there are frequent moves across the country and many deployments around the world with little notice.
Remember to find solutions not excuses. I personally live by this mantra; do what you can, when you can, however you can with what you have. I spent a year in my back yard practicing falling on cardboard and grass before I moved to a town with Judo available. I've poured over books and videos when I've not been able to physically train. I've started up training groups with like minded people when marital arts schools have been unavailable to me. I've worked around injuries. I spent many hours incorporating martial exercises and drills
into my fitness routines while deployed overseas, which got me many a strange looks. I say this not to brag on myself but to encourage you on your journey in the martial way. I will finish this blog with the following quote:
"I wish to preach, not the doctrine of the ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach the highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph." -Theodore Roosevelt