perseverance Steve JobsOur word of the month for February is Perseverance.  Defined…the word means steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.  This is one of my favorite words/life skills to talk with my students about.  In fact my own little ones have earned several “perseverance awards” from Nayaug Elementary School.  Their teachers recognize and encourage kids to work through challenges or obstacles.  I think it’s wonderful because in life we all have to learn to see things through.  Setting long term goals means putting a plan in place and persevering!

Perseverance in the dojo

I think martial arts training is great to foster perseverance.  It takes the average student at my studio 5 years to earn their black belt.  And my guess is that around 5 % of kids who try lessons will stick it out to earn their black belt.  Why?  Well aside from kids having lots of options for other sports and activities it also means they show up weekly to class, year round for 5 straight years (or more for some kids).  Obviously black belt students love what they are doing but you have to take your hat off to them for the level of tenacity and determination to put in that amount of practice.  And it’s also why they should beam with pride to achieve that rank.

Learning from Failures

A real world story that like to share with my students is about my brother Steve.  He is my younger brother by 2.5 years and I started martial arts probably a full year before him.  After several years of training our instructor had promoted both of us into the black belt ranks under his “school belt system”.  But because he decided to change our school affiliation to be under the Chuck Norris style of Karate we were required to re-test for our belts.  At a weekend training camp in West Virginia we had a chance to test.  Now keep in mind this was after something like 6 or 8 hours of daytime classes on Saturday.  The test ran for 6 hours and involved solo demonstrations of kata, traditioinal techniques, and lots of sparring rounds.  Sometime around 1am in the morning we were lined up with the other candidates to find out the test results.  I passed but Steve failed.

Now to anybody this news would be devastating.  Steve was 11 or 12 years old.  So of course he was really bummed out.  But how did he react to this news?  Well, after being bummed out for the rest of the weekend he jumped right back into the dojo the following week.  He re-focussed and took the feedback from the judges and went on to pass his next test the following year.  But that wasn’t enough.  Steve ended up making karate his life passion.  He is currently at 7th degree master black belt, a full-time school owner, an author, and an former champion competitor (Chuck Norris tournament grand champion is 1999 and 2010).  My point is that back at the night of his test things didn’t seem so great.  But with determination he went on to do great things in the arts.

I hope you enjoyed this post on my mat chat lesson for this month.   Feel free to post comments or questions below.  I can be reached at 860.633.1466 if you would like to learn more about my kids martial arts program or to enroll your child in classes.  Coach Jeff


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