This article is an excerpt from an essay I wrote a while back (2004), but it's worth another look! Enjoy!

Ask yourself: “Why am I learning karate?” Some people come to the dojo to learn self-defense. Others come to relieve stress, get in better shape, learn a new art form, or meet new people. What are your personal training goals? If you’re seeking improved fitness, increased confidence, and stronger mental discipline, karate training will develop all of these things! I’ve always said that karate is a journey of self-discovery. So, if karate is a journey — and if some of the benefits I’ve mentioned are the destinations — then what should you pack for the trip?

Indomitable spirit!

Sooner or later, you’re going to a few bumps in the road, and your karate training will bring you face-to-face with one or more of your personal limitations. (Perhaps it’s happened already!) The bumps in your personal karate journey may be the physical limits of your strength, endurance, flexibility, or coordination. A nagging injury may force you to slow down, modify your techniques, or skip a class or two. Your bumps may also be mental obstacles that become manifest as impatience at your lack of improvement, frustration at your inability to master a form, or even boredom from the seemingly endless repetition. The bumps that show up outside of the dojo (stress at work, strained personal relationships, laundry, and all the other things that make up our lives) may also prevent us from getting to the dojo to train for days or weeks.

In the course of your training, the bumps you encounter in the dojo and in life will frustrate you again and again. They may cause you to question why you started karate training (or piano lessons, or medical school) in the first place. If the bump is big enough, you might even be tempted to quit. (I’ve come close to quitting karate many times myself!) The key to getting past the bumps in your training is to train with indomitable spirit!

Indomitable spirit is a combination of inner strength and commitment. It’s what keeps the last-place marathon runner going until she crosses the finish line, long after the crowds have gone home. Indomitable spirit is confidence and a winning attitude. Indomitable spirit is infinite patience, perhaps best demonstrated by Mother Nature: It’s how the Colorado River carved out the Grand Canyon!

It’s your enthusiasm and dedication that will take you all the way to Black Belt and beyond. If you never quit, you'll never fail! With indomitable sprit, we can press on when things get difficult for us. Keep in mind that our potential is always greater than our performance, and displaying indomitable spirit does not always mean trying harder or pushing yourself past exhaustion. There will be many disappointments on your journey, so relax, humbly trust in the process of your training, and draw on the energy of others whenever you’re tired or frustrated. And, be sure to give your energy and encouragement away when you sense that someone else could use a lift!

The moment that you really want to quit is exactly when you’re about to learn something new about yourself. Endeavor! Persevere! Grow and learn! Rest if you must, and respect your limits, but don’t ever give up on your goals!

Author's Bio: 

A 20+ year practitioner of the martial arts and 3rd degree karate Black Belt, Jason Gould is the founder of Emerald Necklace Martial Arts in Boston's Allston neighborhood. Sensei Gould has been certified as a martial arts instructor by the American Council on Martial Arts. He is currently studying to earn a Specialist in Martial Arts Conditioning (SMAC) certificate from the International Sports Sciences Association. Sensei Gould is a certified instructor for the radKIDS personal empowerment and safety education program for children and the R.A.D. Basic Physical Defense program for women. He dutifully maintains his CPR certification through the American Red Cross. Sensei Gould is a Boston University graduate and former United States Marine Corps officer. In 2002 and 2004, respecitvely, city officials recognized the Neighborhood Crime Watches he helped start in Mission Hill and Allston as one of the Top Ten crime watches in Boston. Sensei Gould is a member of the Ultimate Black Belt Test, a one-year instructor training program for master teachers. He reides in Allston, MA with his unusually patient wife and their daughter.

Emerald Necklace Martial Arts
(617) 230-1973