Sunday, May 1, 2016

Elusive Progress

When I was a student of  the Japanese martial art Aiki Jujitsu I was  a terrible student for many many months.
I was slower learning than the other students, and the harder I tried, the more angry I got with myself when I couldn't learn the techniques or keep pace with the moves we were learning in class.

My sparring partner was often Udeziah Hasiki, a brown belt who was the most fluid and adept practitioner in our class. Ude could see my frustration and how my self doubt and criticism affected me. One night, when I we'd practiced a complex set of moves which I hadn't quite gotten right I was exasperated with myself. The soft spoken man held my shoulders, "Mahrtee," he said solemnly. "You ARE i m p r o v i n g. But you, you cahn not see the improvement because you are in the meedle of eet so you cahn not see eet, but we," he touched his chest, "We cahn see eet." He held my gaze to be sure I took in his words.

I could have thrown my arms around Udi. It was one of the wisest and most sensitive things anyone ever said to me.

Ude ended up having to drop out of the dojo because of work and family issues. After years of training hard I went on to earn my black belt. When our Sensei tied that belt around my waist, I had tears in my eyes and  heart for Ude. Without him cheering on my spirit when it did not know its own strength and its own gains, I would not have received such an honour. I would have defeated myself first and not achieved one of the things of which I most proud.

So to you who  struggles to see their own gain, or power, or strength, I say, "You are in the middle of the improvement. You can not see it because you are in the middle of it. But we, we can see it."