Monday, July 26, 2010



     "I can't" is an expression that should all but be removed from the vocabulary of all martial arts practitioners. Here are some reasons why:

*Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he finally succeeded.

*18 publishers turned down the story about a "soaring seagull" before the MacMillan company finally published it in 1970. Within five years, Richard Bach's book, Johnathan Livingston Seagull, had sold over five million copies.

*21 publishers rejected the idea of a comedy set in a medical camp during the Korean War. Richard Hooker kept going until it M*A*S*H was published by one company. It became a runaway best seller and spawned a movie and TV series.

*General Douglas MacArthur was turned down twice times by West Point when he applied to become a cadet.  On his third try, he was finally accepted. The rest is history.

*When NFL running back Herschel Walker was in junior high school, his coach told him he was too small and suggested that he go out for track. Walker ignored this advice, built himself up through intensive training, and won the Heisman trophy a few years later.

*Colonel Sanders went to over 1,000 places trying to sell his chicken recipe before he found a buyer for his Kentucky fried chicken!

*Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected by 27 publishers before being published and selling 6 million copies.

*Once a week for four years, a black author received a rejection letter regarding his novel. He was traveling on a freighter and decided to give up and throw himself overboard. He claimed he heard the voices of his ancestors telling him not to give up and he decided to give his book one more try. Alex Haley's book, Roots, was finally published.

*In 1905 the University of Bern turned down a doctoral dissertation as being irrelevant and fanciful. The young physics student remained undaunted and continued in his efforts. His name was Albert Einstein.

There are thousands and thousands of similar stories. My own is one of them and will be yet again.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."
-Will Rogers

     One of the most important things we learn through our training in martial arts is that anything is possible if we just believe. We discover that the only obstacles we ever encounter are those we have placed in front of ourselves. And we are the only ones who can move them; nobody else can do it for us. If we believe that we will fail, then our destiny is certain. If we refuse to accept failure and believe that we will succeed, the same thing is true. We are what we believe.

     Of course, simple belief isn't enough. Absolute determination and the willingness to work hard and long are also elements which must be included.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are nothing compared to what lies within us."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

     The process can begin with something as simple as a shoulder roll. Over the years, I have taught many young students who were terrified at the thought of doing such a thing. I coaxed and prodded and made each one of them do it. And then I made them do it again and again until their fear was a thing of the past and the obstacle had been removed. They were often overjoyed and wanted to practice rolling at every training session!

"It is better to be prepared for an opporunity and not have one than to have one and not be prepared."
Whitney Young Jr.

     At various point(s) in our training we all run up against the same kind of obstacles. Just because we overcome the first one doesn't mean that's the end of it. Far from it. We discover one obstacle after another. Some are very large and some are small but each one requires a certain measure of effort and belief in ourselves in order to overcome it. This is, we find, a continuous process in life. But if we realize what it takes to overcome these obstacles, we can ultimately overcome all of them one at a time.

"Never look where you're going.  Look where you want to go."
Bob Ernst

     A student once asked me how I was able to thrust my fingertips through small bricks. "First you have to learn the technique," I answered. "Then you have to believe that you can do it. Each time when I set up the brick to do that demonstration, I see myself doing it successfully before I hit it. That's the secret." He didn't believe me and gave up training shortly afterwards.

"I cannot discover that anyone knows enough to say definitely what is and what is not possible."
Henry Ford

     Now understand that technique is essential. A person who can barely read cannot become an author until he learns the technique. A scrawny youth who has never played football will never become an NFL star until he puts in the time and sweat and learns the technique.

     Your teacher can teach you correct technique. That's what he's for. Once you learn that, a good teacher can take you farther and show you what you can really do with it. A great teacher will go beyond the physical technique and show you how to live (it).

"The doctors told me that I'd never walk again, but my mother told me I would. So I believed my mother."
Wilma Rudolph

    Think about it. Masutatsu Oyama's real name was Choi Yong Li. He was Korean. He went to Japan in hopes of becoming a pilot during WWII, but the Japanese wouldn't hear of a Korean flying one of their fighters and he was turned down (fortunately for us). The Japanese have never been very fond of Koreans and the young man had difficulty even finding a job. He made money as a "milkman" driving a delivery truck and managed to get into the university. It was there that he saw Gichin Funakoshi teaching a karate class and he fell in love with the art.
     After several years and superhuman effort (which included living on a mountain for three years), he established his own karate system and developed the Kyokushinkaikan which became one of the largest karate organizations in the world! He was adopted by the Japanese people and took on a Japanese name.
     And it all started out driving a delivery truck and scrounging for meals.

"It never occurred to me that I couldn't do it.  I always knew that if I worked enough, I could."
Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

     Morihei Uyeshiba, the legendary founder of aikido, started out running his own small business. His father had fronted him the money for it. He failed miserably.

"Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity."
Oprah Winfrey

     Jigaro Kano, founder of modern judo, was a schoolteacher who was highly skilled in jujutsu and who dreamed of bringing the art into the schools and into the modern sports arena. It is now the only martial art represented in the Olympics.

    Gichin Funakoshi was also a simple schoolteacher who was ordered to go to Japan to demonstrate karate in 1923 because he was well-grounded in Japanese culture. The Okinawans wanted to send someone who was well educated and familiar with the Japanese culture.  Funakoshi subsequently established the world-reknowned Shotokan karate system.

"If you don't hear opportunity knocking, find another door."
Omar Periu

 Part 2 next week...

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