Sunday, September 23, 2007

How Long to Mastery?

I had the opportunity yesterday to train at a seminar taught by my instructor's teacher, He Who Shall Remain Nameless (HWSRN).

I have a few new readers here since the last time I mentioned HWSRN. Let me assure you that HWSRN is a well-known Bujinkan shihan who has appeared in all the right mainstream martial arts magazines. My posts are suppossed to be about training, not who I do or do not know, and I do not measure my progress simply by who I have or have not trained with.

Anyway, this promised to be a good class as I had the second good fortune to run into one of my old instructors (Let's call him "Rock'n'roll" for his former haircut...) who was willing to work with me for the afternoon.

It didn't take too long working with Rock'n'roll to be reminded of an old martial arts story...
In the story, a young man comes to a new teacher and says that he wants to begin training in martial arts right away. "Certainly," replies the teacher. "How long will it take to master your art?" asks the young man. "Master? Oh, probably ten years," said the teacher.
"Ten years? That's way too long. What if I promise to work twice as hard?" said the young man.
"Oh. If you're willing to work twice as hard than you should master it in twenty years," said the teacher.
And that was my problem. I was trying way too hard. And before you know it, Rock'n'roll was critiquing the same weaknesses in my skill that he critiqued the last time I saw him, three years ago. My angling was off, my kamae was weak, my breathing was bad... It got so bad, I was having trouble executing basic locks and throws.

I'd be lying to say it didn't piss me off. But I can only be made at myself, not Rock'n'roll. Besides, this is why I wanted to train with him -- to test myself and see how I'd progressed.
I left having mixed feelings about my afternoon of training. I've felt like I have put together many pieces of the puzzle in my training this year. I've felt real progress. But I spent last night at home nursing a mildly bruised ego and carefully evaluating my progress, not just in light of one stressful afternoon, but other recent tests.
But that's ok; this is what real training is about. I'll be in class on Monday night.

1 comment:

novice_ninja said...

jrf - HWSRN watched me twice, that I know of, during the seminar. Each time he made a one line comment. They will be my new focus during training.