Hardship will teach you the truth about who you are; it will show you what you are truly made of. Various degrees of hardship will occur in most people’s lives. Some will have minor and mild hardships. Many will have the normal hardships of life, a great loss, a broken heart, a crushed dream, a broken leg, a car crash, a fire, the death of a parent, sibling or friend. Then there are those who will have harsh or severe hardships. The death of a child, the brutal murder of your family, the loss of your eyes, legs, arms, hands, cancer, etc., starvation, torture, homicide, genocide, and other forms of inhumane injustices, which are experienced by hundreds of thousands every year.
It is only natural for us to want ease and not hardship. But a life without hardship is unnatural. So it is best to plan your days, weeks, months, years and life well with the intention of avoiding unnecessary hardship, and at the same time to prepare yourself to be strong enough to deal with the necessary ones. One who prepares for hardship does not experience it the same way as one who doesn’t prepare at all. Preparing for hardship sometimes requires experiencing some hardship.
If you want to prepare for or avoid financial hardship, you may have to work smarter, work more, study more, save more, invest smarter, invest more, plan more, think more, sacrifice more, spend wisely, spend less, give more .
If you want to avoid physical hardship, you may have to train smarter, invest in your health, plan more for your future, pace your health and fitness, commit more, and study more.
If you want to avoid social hardship, you may have to get out more or stay in more, invest more time in your relationship or marriage, plan more, give more, accept more, study and research more about human dynamics.
There are some hardships that are not in our control because we are not conscious or aware of them even though they are on a collision course with us. But there are many we can prepare for, simply because we know they exist and are a possibility. Once you have consciousness over anything, it is your beginning of having some power over it. You can experience hardship in any of the areas of life where you experience joy, health, fitness and strength. Be it social, financial, physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.
A large part of the Martial Arts philosophy (Mudo, Musado, Budo, Bushido, Wu Dao) is based on preparing for, dealing with and accepting hardship as a part of life. It’s also about not fearing it and being bigger than your hardships. It is about being adaptable and being able to make any necessary changes in order to make the best of even the worst situations; yet still maintain your true integrity and an indomitable spirit.
Just as water can adapt not only to any shape, but also to its form from solids to gas, so too can we, the musa adapt to good and bad times, and also from easy to difficult situations. I remember asking my master why so many students quit and fail so badly in the Martial Arts and he said, “Many people are afraid to change. If you want to be good at Martial Arts, you must be willing to change and keep changing.” The master also said, “Most people, especially Americans only like to eat the sweet and not the bitter of life.” “If you want to be successful in Martial Arts and in life, you must be able to eat the sweet, bitter, sour, hot, salty and nothing.”
When life gives you bitter or hardship, you must use all your strength and wisdom to either change it or change yourself. When you can’t do anything to change it or yourself, then you must find a way to benefit from your hardship. Hardship can contribute to your life in many ways, two of which are wisdom and strength. Hardship can strengthen you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. All of which can have dramatic beneficial effects on your life.
Even a broken bone set back correctly will be stronger at the broken place than any other part of the same bone. History and life are full examples of this. There are countless people who have made their lives a great victory because of the hardship they have not only endured but also learned from and gained strength and wisdom because of them, such as President Nelson Mandela, Susan Doyle, Gogen Yamaguchi, Master Choi Oyama, Jackie Chan and Grand Master Choi to name a few.
Remember to become good and then great. Historically the nations that were able to endure hardships and grow in wisdom and strength from them were always victorious and stronger than nations of greater size, resource and might. Several examples of this are: Vietnam against the Allied Western powers, the Northern tribes defeating Rome, the Vikings, the Mongols, the Huns, Afghanistan beating Russia. History and Nature show that when people or a species are forced to endure extreme hardship, the weak die off leaving only the fittest and strongest to reproduce and learn from each other.
When training in Martial Arts, you also will experience hardship somewhere along your path of personal skill and development. It could be physical hardship, mental hardship, emotional hardship or even spiritual hardship. Always keep in mind that there is necessary hardship and unnecessary hardship, but this depends greatly on what you want to accomplish and how much work you need to do on yourself to accomplish it.
So, if you want to learn to fight well, you must be prepared for some hardship like getting hit, getting knocked out, feeling like you are dying, or getting beaten by your master. Most are not ready for that, but those who are will not only take it with stride, but will say “thank you,” and after taking a little beating will say “that was nice.” For some, the physical hardship is easy and the mental and/or emotional hardship is unbearable.
You must be able to eat sweet, bitter, sour, hot, salty and nothing. If your master tells you something and you feel good or bad, you must be able to take it, eat it, and digest it. And if your master gives you nothing to eat, you must be able to handle it also. Many people can’t handle being told something is not right with them, and unfortunately they lose great benefits and lots of time because they aren’t ready to hear the truth, and their master will not tell them until they show they are ready to hear it and prepared to change.
Many lose their direction and balance when the master doesn’t feed them. But feeding can be the last thing they need because they may be choking on what they already have or not digesting what was given to them before.
Some perceived hardships are actually blessings in disguise. Sometimes asking for something is actually asking for hardship. In the Martial Arts, every skill level has a price. You should know not only what you would like to achieve but also your reason for trying. If your reason is as strong as your ability to deal with the possible hardships (price) required to achieve your goal, you will be on the right track to succeed.
Sometimes the price may not be a cost but a sacrifice. Sometimes you may have to lose something, give something up. It could be a person or a group of people. It could be a habit that works against your true desires or it could be a mind set, a way of thinking that blinds your vision and blocks your progress at every turn.Authentic and deep growth takes inner strength, courage, faith and commitment.This is the way to prepare for and overcome hardship, this is the way of the true martial artist, this is the action philosophy of Mu Sa Do (Bushido).
If this is the path you wish to truly travel and you would like to save yourself a lot of time and unnecessary hardship, let me know when you are ready to start training.