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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

The Big "P"

We martial artists know that training teaches us so much more than just using punching, kicking, grappling, and weapons to great effect on "bad guys".

I'm talking about the values we incorporate into what we do.

Often, we're explicit about certain values, like Taekwondo's tenets of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, and indomitable spirit.  We have them on our web sites, in our student handbooks, on the wall of our training spaces, all over our social media, and it's something we refer to and talk about a lot.

We also communicate values via proverbs, such as "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" or "fall down seven times, get up eight", or "a black belt is a white belt who never quit" and so forth.

Whether it's direct or it's indirect, every single one of us are absorbing these values as we train. We carry these values with us into other spheres of our lives - work, family, friends, faith, and other hobbies.

Lately, I've been learning and relearning a value that I think every one of you reading this can relate to. That value is PATIENCE.

Ah, patience, the Big "P".  It's kicking my butt.

In the current case of "Lessons in Patience", I'm healing from an injury, and it feels very slow-going. I'm doing what I can to move things along, but it seems like the process is taking ONE BILLION YEARS and it feels like I'm never going to get back to normal.

Another time I learned about patience - again - was a time when I was studying new things with new teachers after about 9 years of continual training in the martial arts. I was embarrassed that I wasn't catching on as fast as I thought I should (I'm a black belt after all, right?) but I was like every other normal person in that I was learning something completely new and I'm not a black belt in that stuff, I'm a white belt.

But it's not a rank thing, really, it was just a lack of patience in the process.

I wanted to be good at it, RIGHT NOW.

Of course, I know that's not a reasonable expectation.  If I were teaching me as a student, I'd tell me the exact same things my teachers are telling me.  I'm doing fine, I'm making good progress, be patient.

My brain knows this.  My body even knows this.

But my heart... my heart is yelling at me to STOP SUCKING AT THIS STUFF FASTER!

Frankly, I'm not the world's best when it comes to patience. I wanna do, NOW, and I really dislike having to wait.  I'm the Veruca Salt of the martial arts world, I guess.

However, there is a way you can make the time you have to wait shorter.

The hack, as the kids say, to having to be patient is another big "P": Practice.

It's not a matter of letting time pass (aka "time in rank", if you will). It's a matter of the repetitions and work you do to acquire the skill.  So if you want to be good faster, you spend more time training and you'll get faster quicker.  It really is that simple.

We like to say that earning a black belt in a given style takes so long - three years, five years, ten years, what have you.  Unless your style requires a certain minimum time-in-rank (as many do), you CAN do it faster, legitimately.  Those time frames assume a certain level of training, so many hours per week over the years.

Let me explain what I mean. Here's a hypothetical for you:

Let's say it takes 5 years to earn a black belt in a style.  Let's assume 10 hours of training a week (in class and home practice) and 50 training weeks in the year (missing a couple of weeks for vacation or holidays or whatnot). So, this person would earn black belt rank with 2,500 training hours.

If a person trains 20 hours a week, a super-dedicated person who is going WAY above and beyond in training, that person can get that same amount of training in half the time, 2-1/2 years.

I bet the super-dedicated person who earns the black belt rank in 2-1/2 years is no better or worse, all things being equal, than the dedicated person who did it in five.

They both have the same amount of training time. Time on the mat, if you will.

Thus, if I want to stop being annoyed by having to be patience, the real solution is to practice, not whine about it here on the blog or get mad at myself for not catching on faster.

Practice beats patience.  And you can quote me on that one.

Do you struggle with patience?  How much do you practice?  Any advice for someone like me?  Let us know in the comments!

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