Unlike sports, true martial artists don’t have an off-season. This can cause many frustrations. Training for life isn’t a game. It takes more dedication and commitment. The effort needed to ensure that safety of your life and your family is a 24/7/365 thing. Now, I’m not trying to make anyone anxious or paranoid. This is just a statement that I believe is true.
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The quarterly cycle that runs through most athletics provides the opportunity to play a variety of games and enjoy each season. Unless you come from a small school, most high school athletes don’t play more than two sports. This provides ample time to recover (relax) and enjoy other parts of life.
A large part of our educational system is built around the different breaks as well. The different holidays plus the important farming season spent away from academics to ensure the family thrives. These breaks give the student a chance to enjoy (or not) some different activity.
Even the military has cycles for their people. Certain groups (whether they are teams, squads, companies, battalions) are prepared for immediate deployment on a rotating schedule. Law enforcement and fire fighters have schedules similar.
The schedules of these last groups are the only support you get in your preparations to keep your world (family and community) safe. Right now, at any time – while reading this in the comfort of your home or walking to your car after work or enjoying an evening with friends – you could need skills to protect your life. You are always “on duty” in this capacity.
This need for immediate response is developed during your martial arts training. The physical training prepares your body. The mental training, which is harder to see, prepares your mind to function under stress. A simple illustration here can be seen in rank promotion preparations. You are given a specific curriculum to develop to an appropriate level, then you are tested on the curriculum. An unsuccessful test keeps you working on that curriculum further and maintains the mental stress. The successful completion of that test gets you a new belt AND immediately a new specific curriculum to work on.
This is an important concept. It teaches that accomplishments are not end goals. It reminds the student nothing changes, really. It says to the student “You’ve taken another step, now back to work.” If you don’t go back to work, the skills and knowledge that you’ve gained will never benefit you…or help protect you.