Are You an Amazing Athlete?
Are you an amazing athlete? Do physical skills come easily to you? Well to me they do not. There are those who assume I am a natural athlete, gifted, that I don't understand how difficult it is for some to learn Krav Maga. Well, they should speak to my mom and they will discover there is really one thing that I am most natural at.
I work like crazy. When I was learning to play the guitar I played until the skin on my fingers was peeling off. When I was training in Oyama Karate I had a makiwara board on my home in Brooklyn, I would punch until my knuckles bleed. And I will work on the IKI website until it is the best Krav Maga website in the world. That is my secret, hard work, the willingness to actually make an effort.
Simple, huh? Not really.
I recall years ago I worked at a 'special education' school. There was this boy, Aaron, had more problems that I can describe, but he wanted to be a Ninja. He kept bugging me everyday, teach me! Teach me! He insisted he will work as hard as is required, he will do anything I say; he will be the hardest working student ever. Finally I agreed to teach him. He lasted less than twenty minutes. He became tired and took a break, a break from which he never returned.
Yeah, Aaron was "Special Ed", so we can forgive him, but you know what? You know what I learned when I was a Special Ed teacher? I learned that there is no real difference between us "regular" people and the special Ed people; it is just a matter of degree, that's all. We have all the same fears, anxieties and weaknesses they have, just in smaller doses. I was able to see "us" in "them".
Back to me, what do I have over others? They say that maybe six out of 1,000 students who put on a white belt will someday wear a black belt. Some say the number is even lower.
I will tell you. When I decide to do something I go into it totally, never half way. I don't think of pain, discomfort, inconvenience or whatever. I just do it! (long before Nike). Once I go into it I don't think in terms of cost, travel, time, effort, or loss of other opportunities. When I was training for my brown belt test several job opportunities came up that conflicted with my training, so I just dropped them. I did not think of "Lost opportunities", or loss of income. I was focused on what I needed to do, nothing else mattered. It is simply a mindset. You go for it, you don't stop and look to the side of the road; you just keep driving. It all starts in your head.
So a student comes in, he wants to learn Krav Maga. He starts training and then gets distracted, he does a technique a few times and wants to do something else. He does a gun disarm five, six, times and says, "I got the basic idea." No my friends, this is not the way, this is not Bushido, the way of the warrior, this is not the way our great teachers trained.
Our great teachers moved into the instructors' home (this is not a personal invitation), they rearranged their order of priorities, and they devoted themselves in body and soul. They put their minds and bodies to the task at hand and were not distracted by pain, loss of other opportunities, social events, "great" parties or what have you. They were driven by a goal. So before you come to train, make sure you have your priorities straight. Is this what you really want? Are you going to be counting pennies or will buy everything you need? Will you start asking me, "Do I really need a groin protector?" "Should I really buy the DVD's?" You should buy everything you can get your hands on.
I have every DVD, T shirt, or book my teachers put out. I want to know all I can know. If I say, you know what, I will save $10 and not buy the DVD -- then what I am really saying is "I am not totally committed to this decision."
In the movie "Kickboxer", the student (played by J. C. Van Damme) is kicking a tree and starts to bleed on his leg. He stops; the pain is too much. The instructor says, "Pack your bags and leave my home, you are not serious about training."
The point in this scene is clear. Either commit to the training or leave my home. Don't waste my valuable time if this is only a hobby for you. You are just making it more difficult for the next student who comes along.
Do you need to be a natural athlete to succeed in Krav Maga or any martial art? No, but you need to be a committed student, you need to be ready to jump in and give it your all. Otherwise you are wasting the instructors' time, dishonoring him and the art.
Commit to serious training, be an honorable student and you will be an asset to the art, to your instructor and to yourself.
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