I have written many times about Nintai or Kennin Fubatsu (perseverance) and it’s relationship to martial arts and of course it’s importance in daily life. These days as we, hopefully, near the end of this terrible pandemic “coming back” from health setbacks or injury seems like an appropriate topic. So, today I’d like to focus on one aspect of the comeback, perseverance.
We all encounter obstacles on a daily basis. The key to overcoming them is our attitude and how we approach the potential solutions to our dilemmas. The least effective strategy one can use, is… to quit.
I am reminded of the story of Thomas Alva Edison who we all know created the first incandescent light bulb and many other major inventions and innovations. Mr. Edison was told by a teacher while in elementary school that he was too stupid to learn and should quit school and go to work. He did the work part, as we know. He made more than 5000 attempts at the electric light before he was successful. That is perseverance.
Over the past several years or so perseverance has played an incredibly important part in recovery from injury and ensuing surgeries. I speak from personal experience as I had my hip replaced a number of years ago along with two other more minor surgeries. Shihan Craig Werner had his knee replaced several years ago and, of course made a full recovery because he did the work. Shihan Aguilar has bounced back very well from open heart surgery and back surgery. He is also a wonderful example of perseverance and hard work.
Perseverance is an important trait in recovery from injury and invasive procedures but that’s only a part of the equation. There is a place for wisdom and slow consistent progress.
In speaking with one of the preeminent orthopedic surgeons in Colorado Springs his feeling was that the failure of an individual to recover fully was due to the lack of work and the lack of consistency of effort. This may be the politically correct way for an M. D. to shift blame but I tend to agree with him. We, as a society, tend to accept mediocrity of effort, incomplete or inconsistent effort and therefore minimal results.
The first and most important factor in recovery is hard work. This is the case in training as well. If you want to improve, work hard. If you want to recover, work hard. If you want to succeed, work hard.
Now, obviously, hard work must be pointed in the right direction. The old joke says it all. A couple is traveling via car and they seem to be unsure of where they are and where they’re going. The husband says. “The bad news is that we’re lost. The good news is that we’re making great time.” Are you making good time but unsure of your direction?
So, if you want to get better, do the work but point yourself in the right direction. Do the research and learn all you can about what you’re trying to achieve. You must have an accurate guidance system so that the hard work is consistently pointing you in the right direction. When a traveler asked Aristotle how to get to the Parthenon, he simply responded that every step must take you in the right direction.
Hard work must be tempered with wisdom and judgment. In other words work hard but smart. The Okinawan karateka used the makiwara (striking post) gradually and consistently for many years to toughen the weapons of the body. When karate was exported to Japan proper, a number of Japanese karateka thought they could shorten the process of toughening the knuckles and other weapons by striking to the point of breaking the knuckles. This, of course, was counterproductive in the majority of instances. What developed was not a hard weapon but a cartigilaneous mass that was soft, tender and prone to life long arthritis.
We must be passionate about our commitment to growth but of course we must be smart about it as well.
- Learn everything you can about the injury and the best strategies for recovery.
- Work hard.
- Work steadily, consistently, incrementally and precisely.
- Use good judgment.
We will all be injured at some point in our career. The injury can
be viewed as an opportunity to get better and stronger. Work hard and work wisely on your path to martial arts mastery.