By: Mataas Na Guro Dino Martinez (originally published in 2011)
Chief Instructor PTK-SMF Tampa, Director Of Operations PTKGO
Friends, every now and again, I am given a sobering reminder of an aspect of our art that often goes overlooked, as it deals not with our technique, methods, or physical exertions. And while easily overlooked, it arguably has the most significant impact on our entire journey in the art. It is the soul of our practice, and it is the very spirit of our discipline. It is, quite simply, a question. A question that manifests itself in different ways - here are a few: "For what purpose?" "For what purpose do you train?" "For what reason are you on this path?" "Why are you here, and what are you looking for?" I would offer here, now, a word from experience. Perhaps you have strong, clear answers to those questions, or perhaps those answers are only half-formed and unexamined. In either case, there is nothing more important to your practice than understanding the purpose of your training, and having the discipline to adhere to it. Before even picking up the stick or the blade, do you know what you are looking for? Are those answers sufficient to sustain you? For how long? Months? Years? Perhaps sufficient in easy times, but can they be enough to see you through your first, real challenges? Are they sufficient enough to see you through those last, long hours of your own training, of workouts and sessions endured in the heat, the cold, the rain.
When there is not enough time, not enough money, too much X, not enough Y. More importantly, are they sufficient enough to see you through the Disappointments, the Losses, the long Plateaus, the Setbacks, the Injuries and Injustices, the Frustrations, the Betrayals, the Struggles, the Doubts... and the Wall. Are they enough for when you hit the Wall, in its one shape or another. Perhaps you know what I am referring to -The Wall, which represents the first, or second, or maybe third time you have seriously considered walking away from the whole thing.
The Wall is decision time, friends. Do I break through, or do I check out? If you haven't been in this long enough or seriously enough, maybe you haven't hit the Wall yet, but be assured that you will. You will be standing there, with only yourself to answer the questions hammering away at you... why am I here? For what purpose do I travel? hat is it, really, that I hope to gain? I can only say that it is my hope, friends, that you, for yourselves, have uncovered what these answers may be. It is my sincere wish that if yours is the path of Mastery, be it PTK, FMA, Combat arts, or any disciplined practice, that you may continue to redefine your guiding motivation when old ones fail to sustain you any longer. It is true that this path is not meant for everyone, nor should it be expected, for the initial energy and incorruptible enthusiasm of the beginner inevitably stalls. However, at any stage, above all else be clear with yourself: What, truly, do I want from this, and why? Believe me when I tell you that when you are in possession of an utterly honest response, no Wall will be a barricade, no Wall will long delay or deter you. Not after 1 year, or 3 years or 5 or 10, 20, 30, etc.
This is the discipline of the path, the point of our practice, the road to true transformation, and the only guarantee you can be given along the way is - Know Thyself and You Cannot Fail. Know Thyself, the old saying advises. And for us, that stands and will always stand as the bedrock of our practice and compass on this long journey. Know Thyself, and you will stand when all else fades away - when there is to be found neither teacher nor students, when rank and glory and recognition has faded along with the memories of past achievements, when all organizations, associations, federations and affiliations have dissolved, when there is, after all is said and done, nothing left but You and the Weapon - the tool of your practice and instrument of your art. And there you will stand, perhaps an expert in your craft, but undeniably a Master.