Every practitioner of the martial arts has a reason they began. It’s not always what keeps them training, but we all have an origin story, and those stories are often quite moving. Martial arts training is vastly different than playing football, playing basketball, or playing baseball. You don’t “play” the martial arts. You “practice” the martial arts. Anything you practice, you do in order to seek something greater- to go somewhere further than where you began. Training in the martial arts is a journey, and that journey often takes you places you didn’t realize you needed to go, until you got there.
My traditional martial arts instructor, Professor Robert Austin, once asked me a question. (He’s asked me a lot of questions, but he asked me this one, too.) He asked, “If I offered you a million dollars, but the catch was that you had to give up every benefit you have ever received from martial arts training would you take it? I thought about this question. This would mean that I would have to give up EVERY benefit I had ever received from the martial arts… not just the skills. I would have to give up the relationships- every one of them- all the friendships I’ve created over the years. I would have to give up how the martial arts have helped to change me as a person- the confidence, focus, and internal strength that the arts have helped to cultivate. I would have to give up the way the training has fundamentally helped to make my life better. The arts have helped me to live a healthier, happier, safer, more successful life. I would have to give all of that up.
When I was a white belt, my answer would have been a resounding yes to that question. As a black belt, I knew all too well that the benefits of training are far too valuable. I told him, “No. I would not give it all up for a million dollars.” He responded with something like, “Remember- that’s how important what we do is to people.”
Keep training, and you will understand the true value of what you are doing. If your training isn’t worth more than a million dollars, you just haven’t trained for long enough.