It has taught me truth, courage, leadership and self-trust...
For twenty years now I have been a practitioner of KALI, the art of Filipino Fencing. Some refer this to the Filipino Martial Arts. What I have endured and learned in the past two decades has shaped me into the human I am today but, it wasn't just the art itself, it was because of the choice of complete devotion to a path of deepness, a dedication that would demand a different kind of long distance travel. A travel to within.
Over the years of training the practice evolved patiently. Even at the times I wasn't patient. I remember the early days, even the first day, filled with excitement, fright, and eagerness. When it was new it was so difficult not only to get the physical motions down but also to resolve the emotions and still the mind. I didn't realize at the time the journey, the process that would be endured all from that single moment, that single decision, that simple phrase, "yes, I'll go check it out."
What I've learned in twenty years of practice in one thing are so many things. I've learned about fighting, I've learned about nature, people, virtue, potential, courage, bravery, perfection, stillness, decision making, emotions, communication, failure, success, what it means to be dedicated, and I've learned much about myself. I've learned about the battles one has within and doesn't even realize them or chooses to be ignorant of but, the most important things I have learned about are virtue and dedication. This is where everything else truly begins.
There is no dedication without virtue or at least the search of virtue. Commitment is easy. It's just showing up. When one falls off the wagon it is easy to recommit the next day but, dedication you either have or you don't just like a virtuous life you either live or you don't.
Everybody has their own list of virtues but, I believe no matter the list, they all should start with the virtue of truth. Without truth you cannot really be sure of other things. Without your own truth you cannot be sure of yourself. It is easy to know the truth but may be a war to accept it even regardless the reality of it. I've learned many truths about myself during my KALI practice that were upsetting, unfair, and others that where encouraging, and exciting but, nonetheless, each component was and is the truth.
Courage is the virtue that rises next. It takes a great courage to face these truths and act upon them. It takes courage to do the physical. It takes courage to work through the mental and emotional and whether you make the right or wrong decision it takes courage to see it through. However, as said by Aristotle, "There's a fine line between courage and foolishness." You mustn't mistake or confuse the two.
Leading by example is a great example to lead one's life by. This would put leadership in third place on the virtue scale. You love your children so you teach by leading them the way, correct? But, which way do you lead them? As a teacher of the martial arts I can lead my students down my path or teach them about virtues so they can use guidance along their own path and make their own decisions, failures and successes. Leadership is delicate. It's a fragile line between truth and expectation.
Without virtue what does one devote their time, effort, or oneself too? Without Truth how does one love? Without courage how does one respect? Without leadership how does one communicate? How do you do these things and live a life with precision and accuracy?
If you know something is unhealthy for a child and continue the act then perhaps you have love for the child but, you may not love the child and instead be in love with the idea of love or think that love is to be expected. The same follows with love for yourself. If one doesn't follow a virtuous dedication then how does one really trust themselves and the decisions one makes? Often times expectation is simpler than truth.
For many years I thought my practice in the martial arts was about fighting, self-defense, and physical movement, even personal development but, what it's really about is virtue and virtue is about life. One cannot sustain personal development growth without virtue and dedication. In order to live a great life one must be dedicated to living a great life whether it is a life of decisions leading to failures or successes. Whether one is a peasant or a noble, to live with virtue and dedication is the greatest success.
If you are unsure of virtue and dedication but understand the value of, then you must act and search. Without virtue and dedication you will never know true potential.