Everyone has one a breaking point. A point where you look at yourself and say, “I can’t go another step. I am done. I can’t do it.” We all feel it. We have all been there. So what happened? Did you quit? Or did you keep going?
I was talking to a young man the other day who is scared with sparring and in our school, we spar quite a lot. He is on my instructor Tiger Team. I know what you are thinking, how can an instructor be afraid of sparring? To be honest, I don’t know. I love it. But he, well, he doesn’t. He came up to me complaining about yet another minor bump or bruise and asking to not spar that day. I knew he wasn’t hurt. I knew he was fine physically. But emotionally, I knew he was reaching his breaking point. Because I am a martial arts instructor, I know many people may think I am hard on him, that I ridicule him or that I went all “Cobra Ki” on him. But the truth is much different. I just looked at him and simply said. “I know you don’t like sparring. I can see you are afraid of getting hit. But what you don’t see is that you are really good at it and have too much talent to waste it.” He looked down for a moment and realized that he hadn’t been fooling me for quite some time. “Look.” I said, “Get out there. Being brave isn’t about not being afraid. Being brave is being scared out of your mind and you keep going. You can do it. Go!” Every time I tell him to put on his gear, I can see his tribulation. I can see the conflict within. I can see him put on his gear, get out there and do the best he can. Is he good? No, he is OUTSTANDING. He has more natural talent than I have ever had. But he is afraid to spar. And every time he puts his gear on, he gives me his best. And every time, I respect him more. Why? Because courage is having the strength to overcome what you are afraid of doing or don’t believe you can do. Without the fear, there is no courage and thus, no glory. I have students that are afraid of being in front of people testing. I have students that are afraid to break their wood stations. I have students that are afraid of getting hit. I have students that are afraid of not meeting their parent’s expectations. I have students that are afraid of being laughed at. I have students afraid to wear the white pants because it “makes their butt look big.” I have students that are afraid because they are old. I have students that are afraid because it is something new. Yet every day, they are on the mats. And every day, Every SINGLE DAY, they persevere. They overcome their fears. And every day, I respect them more. They inspire me. They make me face my fears, my weaknesses and my shortcomings. As any Instructor does, I find inspiration in my students because while I encourage them, they encourage me, and each other, to rise to levels none of us ever could accomplish alone. Everyone has a breaking point, even me. When I hit it, as I have several times in my life, I have always found someone that will look at me and say, “You can do it!” That is when I found the courage to take that next step and accomplish what I was ready to give up on.
That is when I found the inner strength to succeed. That is when I went where I never dreamed I could go. That is when I made what I thought impossible, possible. When you see someone struggle, no matter when no matter where, remember, it is your time to encourage them, to give them some of your strength so they can find their own. With encouragement, anything is possible.