STUDENT NOTEBOOK Table of Contents

Ask any martial art student who's been in the arts for a while if they'd ever thought of quitting, and they'd most likely answer yes.

There was an advanced student who had been involved in martial arts for over five years. He said a couple of years back he thought of quitting; material didn't seem new to him and he was getting very busy with his work. Then he started seeing the benefits of martial arts - how he could now touch his toes for the first time in 20 years, how he hadn't missed a day of work due to sickness in two years, and how his job seemed less stressful. He stuck with it and now has earned the rank of black belt.

Most all martial artists get to a point where they think they aren't learning anything new. Students believe that they've learned all the kicks, or they don't want to learn any more forms, or they aren't getting any more flexible, and that they've gone as far as they can go in the martial arts. When you reach this point where you feel you aren't learning anything new, ironically, that's when you really are.

What is actually happening is that the knowledge is resting on the surface. What is needed and what is necessary is for that knowledge to get below the surface, to become ingrained and get from your mind to your heart. Only then can you truly use what you have learned. If an attacker were to approach you, and you had the knowledge of how to react but had to think about it, it would be too late. You have to simply react, without thinking. This occurs only when the knowledge is ingrained through years and years of repetition. After all the knowledge is learned (when some students feel they aren't learning anything new) a process occurs where the knowledge is seeping in and martial arts is becoming a part of you. How unfortunate it is for the student who quits at this point.

In martial arts, a beginning student learns basic strikes, and then repeats them over and over again, often for many years. At first, the student struggles with the moves, both mentally and physically. Over a period of time, the moves become natural and can be done without effort. A martial artist must be able to perform strikes without effort if he wishes to apply them on the street. The student who does not understand this often believes, after a period of time, “I'm not learning anything new.” He doesn't realize that the learning has gone from his mind to his heart.

So when you feel you aren't learning anything new in the martial arts, that's when you really are.

Some students think “I'm going to quit after green belt - I've learned enough.” The learning is compounded exponentially. Quitting when you're just getting started (at green belt, you're just getting started; you're just barely skimming the surface) is like throwing away lots of hard work and good money you've put into the martial arts thus far. You may retain some knowledge, but if you don't continue to practice and sharpen your skills and condition your body, the delay that results from lack of practice may be all it takes on the street.

Some students say they're going to quit because they want to take soccer, or football, or whatever, and they don't have time for martial arts. Soccer and football and whatever are fine sports. But the student must determine what is more beneficial in the long run without thinking of short term gains. Does soccer help your life in the long run? Perhaps it does. Does martial arts?

Some students say they're going to quit because their job keeps them too busy, and that is understandable. Family should always be number one, and one's job supports one's family. But ask - will the two or three hours a week that the student devotes to martial arts actually hinder the student's job, or will it help? Studies show that a person who exercises regularly has more energy for their work. Does the student actually not have two hours a week to spare? Is it possible they can use their time more efficiently to leave time for an art which very well could improve the quality of their life?

Some students think of taking a break from the martial arts, of “temporarily quitting.” Even though the student has every intention of returning, bear in mind that most don't. Do you ever want to take a break from eating?” No, you need to eat about every day. You like to eat; it is not a chore. The same is true of martial arts; serious students feel a need to do martial arts about every day, if not physically, then mentally or spiritually. It's work, but it's fun work.