(By Mark Cocquio – Snr Instructor Pacific Int. Taekwondo)
I’ve been training for more than 15 years now, so when Master Instructor asked me to write a blog with the above title my first thought was “where on earth do I start?”
The martial arts journey is not an easy thing to put into words, and it is different for everyone. However, there are some fundamental things that all martial artists learn in time, that ultimately tie us all together.
I’m still discovering them, but I thought I’d share some of these thoughts with you, rather than write a technical blog about how to kick, punch and smash stuff.
A great quote I once read states: “there are no good and bad martial arts, just good and bad martial artists”.
Of course this is a handy quote to pull out to end one of those tedious x-style-is-better-than-y-style arguments (normally brought up by armchair fans of MMA, Kickboxing, or other “fighting sports”), but more importantly it brings to mind the question: What makes a good martial artist?
There are many aspects, but one important thing I’ve discovered is that good martial artists are never satisfied.
It is a natural human tendency to constantly compare ourselves to others. Training is no different. We start as beginners and see black belts doing amazing, impossible things (at least, that’s how I felt when I started training).
Some people are more athletic than others. Some are more naturally coordinated. I was neither. I never really have been, so perhaps this is why I have always felt like I wasn’t as good as my peers and always needed to do better in my training.
Whatever the reason, one important thing have I learned along the way is to be fair with myself. Credit where it is due, but also criticism. Many people have an imbalance of one or the other. Training has helped me find the middle ground, not just with martial arts but in life as a whole.
The 24 patterns of Taekwondo represent the 24 hours of a day, but this day is a metaphor for a human life in comparison to the age of the universe. Training is a journey, just as life is a journey.
Never stop questioning, learning, discovering, trying, failing, retrying, and stepping outside of your comfort zone, and you’ll be well on the way to success in martials arts and life in general. Never be satisfied with where you’re at, but don’t forget to take the time to appreciate it as well!
I’ll finish with another stolen quote: a black belt is just a white belt who didn’t give up.