I love being active. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a state finalist softball team in my high school days, as well as a field hockey team that took home the championship. I’ve always looked forward to playing sports, and enjoying a hard earned ‘team win’. I’ve also played along side some fierce competitors, who pushed us to the brink of exhaustion and left us bruised and defeated on our long, silent bus-ride back to town (with the promise of a punishing training session the next day).
There are many wonderful lessons to be learned by working within a well-oiled team. You learn your position, what is expected of you, and how to effectively communicate and support your teammates. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, tough decisions are made in order to benefit the good of the team. If an injury takes out a member, adjustments are made, which utilize the strengths of the remaining healthy members. Everything revolves around ensuring that the team is primed for success during the season.
While benching someone for an injury is simply a smart idea to aid in their recovery, benching someone who is ‘rogue’ on the field (even if successful) was one that baffled me. As a teenager, it seemed to me that forcing some of my athletic teammates to sit out on a game was a rather draconian measure. But now that I’m (ahem) a lot older, and functioning with a fully-developed brain, I better understand the decision-making process of my coaches. If you aren’t working for the good of the team, you aren’t a part of the team. You are an errant cog in the machine, and need to be replaced, or adjusted. Sometimes benefiting the team means that you take on a supportive role, while other times you’re required to engage in a full-on test of what you’re made of.
When I first began training in the martial arts, it was difficult for me to find my place. There is no ‘team’, and there isn’t a season that I’m training for. There is no competition. I’m training for me! I am a part of a community of like-minded adults looking to learn and further develop a skill set. This was a complete shift in how I looked at training. I wasn’t restricted to the set time limit of a season, nor did I have any idea what was expected of me. This was a lifestyle.
While it took a little time to find my way, I realized that I was able to map out when I could be expected to earn my next rank. I set my sight on earning my Bo-Black belt (after all, it’s a really cool looking belt), and just continued to train and progress through the ranks without the pressure of ‘doing it right’. For me, something wonderful happened along the way. I realized that the martial arts is something I can do for the rest of my life. That there is a way to train, which can make each class a uniquely rewarding experience. While some weeks I focus on increasing my speed, other weeks I shift my aim to increasing the power. Sometimes I’m simply looking to better my cardio-conditioning.
I have personally found the benefits on training in the martial arts to far surpass those of team sports. The martial arts doesn’t need to be a single-minded, goal-oriented sport. There are many little wins that I have experienced in class that I’m sure many of you can relate to… like when you hit the bag with a roundhouse that feels solid …. when you successfully fade away from one of Master Dan’s signature jabs … or when you’re able to remain at a consistent pace through the entire set of 100 front kicks. And any time I’m feeling somewhat defeated in a class, (when my body is not behaving like that of an exuberant and spritely 18 year old), I know that I’m only collecting new data for my list of things to work on. These minor setbacks are simply a part of the process of working toward a new success.
Winning the state championship was an amazing experience for me and my team. But it doesn’t compare to how I felt when I saw my Black Belt placed on the mat before me. That was a ‘win’ that I earned along side my supportive community. And it doesn’t mark the end; it’s only a special footnote in the process of my training.
– Kailen Pirro
“In this world a man must either be an anvil or a hammer.”
–Henry W. Longfellow
We will be holding our Adult Street Fighting Seminar next Sunday (August 26th) at 12pm. Join us for this action-packed seminar where Master Dan will answer questions and demonstrate new techniques.
The cost for the session is $20, and participation is limited to 20 people (both students and non-students).
We still have a handful of spots left, so if you’d like to participate, email Kailen or see a staff member today!