The Power of Perseverance
“Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock,
perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it.
Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two,
and I know it was not the last blow that did it,
but all that had gone before.”
Jacob A. Riis
A person who achieves Black Belt has learned a lot of things.
I’m not referring here to kicks and blocks, kata’s and techniques. Being able to first learn, and then master all of the moves taught over a period of a number of years is no small accomplishment, but Black Belts achieve more than that.
There is the appreciation for the development and maintenance of a healthy body. There is the ability to stay calm, focused and confident in stressful and chaotic situations. And, of course, there is the ability to defend one’s self from a predator.
But if there is one single thing a martial artist eventually achieves that is more important than any other skill or quality, one which makes the biggest difference in their life and the way they live it, it would be perseverance.
No skill has ever been developed, no academic achievement has ever been reached, no career ever been rewarding and no meaningful relationship has ever lasted without the ability to keep working at something even when the effects of your work are not immediately apparent.
And like all the very best of human qualities, perseverance is not something inherited, but rather something observed, learned and developed over time. I believe the person best-suited to take on every challenge –and enjoy every reward—that life has to offer is not the person for whom everything has come easy. It’s the person who struggled and persisted in order to overcome.
I sometimes worry, as I see all the ways that technology is making life easier and easier, that we will lose that most important of qualities. Then I look around our Dojo, at the students who persevered through the physical, mental and emotional challenges to keep moving forward in their training. I see the outstanding Black Belts who at one time were struggling White Belts. And it gives me a whole lot of hope.