“Are we there yet”? This is the often-asked question of a young child on a journey. As irritating as the question can be, the answer is usually a fairly simple one. The response is usually “soon” or “not yet”. It’s simple because we already know the destination and where we are, on the route, at any given time.
In karate training the answer can be a lot more difficult. I guess it would help if we knew where “there” is. The destination, or goal, can often be deceptive and even move periodically. If the destination is “black belt”, the answer can be fairly simple and predictable. Based on the requirements and the hours of training a fairly reliable guess can be made. So the response of “soon” can be given.
What happens when the variables change? The first variable would be an alternate destination. Suppose the goal isn’t black belt but “mastery”. How do we know when we’ve reached the goal? Firstly, we have to know what MASTERY looks like.
According to Webster’s Dictionary Mastery is:
Main Entry: mas·tery
Etymology: Middle English maistrie, from Anglo-French mestrie, maistrie, from meistre master
Date: 13th century
1 a : the authority of a master : dominion b : the upper hand in a contest or competition : superiority, ascendancy
2 a : possession or display of great skill or technique b : skill or knowledge that makes one master of a subject : command
For our purposes the definition “a possession or display of great skill or technique” and “skill or knowledge that makes one master of a subject” makes sense.
So, if we use these definitions, “are we there yet” is really a moving target. When do we achieve mastery? I don’t know. I’ve been training for 49 + years and mastery still eludes me.
Maybe the goal should be excellence. If the goal is excellence then we can achieve it but continue to strive for an even higher level of excellence. I, personally, like the idea of using excellence as the end goal. We can achieve it over and over again and continue to move forward. It’s not a goal that ends the journey but is more like a milestone along the path that lets us know that we are making progress. The path continues and we must continue moving forward but we’ve made progress and that is a great motivator.
So what are your goals? Do you have any way of knowing if you have achieved or are achieving them? Take some time to think on this so when you ask “are we there yet?” you know the answer.
My answer is always “not yet” but I’m making progress.
Good luck and much success as you walk the path toward “Martial Arts Excellence”.