Patience Grasshopper

by Alan Kandel

There are two relevant sayings here: “Good things come to those who wait” and “patience is man’s greatest virtue.” The first couldn’t be truer. As for the second, so I’ve heard, but, is it really I wonder? The word “wait,” incidentally, as used in this instance, is a relative term, meaning it means different things to different people as in “wait” for how long.

So, say a person is learning a martial art. I would say most students, either when they embark on a program of study or have been involved in such for some time already, either realize, or come to realize, respectively, that only through consistent study can proficiency through such practice be attained. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, proficiency is guaranteed, but there is a reasonable expectation that it will happen provided enough time is devoted to such. Then there is the matter of what level of proficiency. That depends on the individual and how much work and the amount of practice put into training. Just as no two people are exactly alike, this too is different for different people.

For anyone who gets involved in martial arts training and their expectation is that a black belt will be awarded in half-a-year’s time, this is probably not being very realistic. If, on the other hand, the student has the expectation that a black belt might be awarded them after five years, this expectation is indeed reasonable and, moreover, it is certainly within the realm of possibility depending, of course, upon the student’s effort and the type of martial art being studied.

So, as you can tell, there are quite a few variables here. Take my own training, for example. There are even more variables, such as my study being kind of convoluted. What I mean by this is, I changed styles twice before finding the Shotokan style and sticking with it. I also had different instructors and studied in different states – California and Maryland. This, no doubt, added to the amount of time it took me to meet the criteria required for shodan (or first degree black belt) ranking. What’s important to remember here is, it’s not the time it took (to acquire shodan or any rank for that matter), but rather, that the testing would take place when I was ready.

From my own experience, it can be readily seen that, for me, the journey has been long and deliberate. Is there more to be learned? Count on it: learning is a life-long process.

Copyright © Alan Kandel. July 29, 2012.

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