March 23, 2009

Martial Spirit

When Terry first came to train with me, just over 2 years ago now, he brought 8+ years of Chinese martial training with him, mostly Wu Taiji. At first he was a bit resistant to my training methods and my approach to the arts (neither I would classify as "traditional," especially compared to others in the CMA community), and was not confident that I was leading him down the right path. But he stuck to the lessons, trained hard, and gradually I started to earn Terry's trust.

To be quite honest Terry had no clue how to fight, nor grapple very well at all. He had not been exposed to any for the most part and the principles and applications he was taught were not as sound and solid as he had hoped they were. This was frustrating to him, but he stuck with it and gave me and my lessons a fair shot. So I started from the ground up as if he was brand new to the martial arts.

For a short period ego got in the way of Terry's progress; he was not a great partner; he would sometimes question my understanding; control was not a word in Terry's vocabulary, etc. But I was patient, and Terry was diligent, and over a short period of time ego subsided and Terry made a couple breakthroughs in his skill levels, and overall understanding of the martial arts.

When Terry asked about fighting San Shou 6 months ago, I was a bit surprised, but I also must admit proud of him for taking a challenge and doing something he was NOT comfortable with. Terry was starting to understand what "spirit" means in the martial sense. See Terry was not comfortable with sparring, or grappling at first. So just for him to step into my club and train with us was a huge success for him. He was never afraid, but it certainly was foreign to him yet he pushed his limits of comfortability and stepped up to the challenge. The challenge came in the form of the 2009 Tiger Balm Internationals (more on the event later) in Vancouver BC. and this was a huge leap for Terry. Not only has he never done San Shou, he would be fighting much younger guys, kickboxers, and MMA cats!

We stepped up all aspects of Terry's training including road work, mitts, thai pads, grappling, etc. etc. And Terry answered every challenge his team mates, and I, gave him! He was disciplined, focused, conditioned, and worked his ass off!

Win - lose - draw
Terry fought nerves, screaming sick kids, family distractions, rule changes, boredom, and a terrible case of the "hurry up and waits" at the tournament on Saturday. When his division was finally called Terry was warmed up, and had heard plenty of my pep talks! He was ready.

Terry fought hard and gave it his all. His opponent (from a local kickboxing school in Vancouver) was faster, younger, and overall more experienced. Terry held his own with a few solid shots, but the kid was faster and scored more points then Terry, and in the end Terry walked away with a loss, but his head was high because he stepped up and did what many say they will do, but few have the balls to really try..... Compete!

Terry fought a tough opponent who hit HARD! And what may amount as a physical loss, was really a HUGE win for something that is often overlooked in martial arts.....spirit. Some call it balls. Cojones. Guts. Whatever you call it, only those who have stepped up to the challenge and put it all on the line in front of seemingly overwhelming odds, and with all the eyes of strangers there watching the competition, can truly understand the warrior spirit!

In the process of his focused training Terry became a better partner; has exhibited great self control and restraint both on the mat and off; he is now hitting like a mule; grapples better; mitt work has improved; more disciplined and focused.... the list goes on. All in all this has given Terry a taste of what the martial arts are really about, and that is harnessing the warrior spirit and using it throughout ones life. Many believe martial arts are about violence, when in truth it is nothing but the opposite. Martial arts are about hard work, inner peace, self cultivation, gaining a better understanding of oneself, and self reliance.

Terry, this weekend you exhibited all the true attributes of a warrior; hard work; disciplined focus; martial spirit; and most importantly respect for your opponent and his coach! I am proud to call you my student, and honored to be your coach! You have made the school, your partners, and your teacher very, very proud. From all the people who helped you (Alex, Mike, Ro) and me, congrats on a huge step on your martial journey.


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