Everybody can do the martial arts but very few can be a martial artist.
Being a martial artist requires dedication, positive attitude, inquisitive mind and willingness to help others. There are so many other positive sides to being in the martial arts but sometimes we overlook these because we may get railroaded with distractions that might appear to be a little more interesting at the time (but how long for). Those who fail to achieve Black Belt will often regret it sometime down the track; similarly, those who quit at Probationary Black Belt will also experience failure because it takes 12 months of solid training for promotion to Black Belt 1st Degree which is the final stage of the Black Belt graduation process. Not all schools recognise a Probationary Black Belt as Black Belt because of not fully completing the programme so it is a real shame to throw it all away.
Quitting is not just about leaving the martial arts school. It’s about leaving all those hard years of sweat, blood and tears (pardon the cliché). They also leave the camaraderie behind which is one of the greatest reasons to stay in the martial arts – unique friendship. You have to wonder what is it in their life which has them prompted to give it all away; that could be a concern for any parent or family member.
Mateship outside the dojo can be a big cause for falling off the beaten track in the martial arts. My advice to students is not to get carried away by spending too much time with friends because it can be counterproductive. Beware of friends who will distract you from your training because they have nothing to lose if you miss out on what you love best. They are not martial artists but you are, so they won’t understand. When a Black Belts does drop out, I say WOW because I look at them throwing part of their life away. There has been a number of times I have been able to talk students out of quitting which has been a blessing to them and they are now Black Belts and still actively training. They are proud to say ‘I am a Black Belt, not ‘I used to be a Black Belt’.
Be proud to be a martial artist, be more proud to be a Black Belt and even more proud to continue being a Black Belt. Everybody can see your belt around your GI but if you look closely it is there every other time because the belt is a representation of who you are.