Whatever path you decide to follow when it comes to self-defense, safety, and the martial arts…Whether you”re the novice, the hobbyist, the professional, or the serious practitioner… you are going to take a journey. Along the way you will build a road that can take you absolutely anywhere in life.
This is something you can’t fully understand until you do it. Following this road helps you in every area of your life. It keeps your physical body in shape, improves your flexibility, and adds to your longevity. It lessens stress, improves your thinking, and increases your motivation. It helps your creativity. It helps you sleep better at night. It gives you confidence. It provides greater security, not only for you but for those around you.
This is no little dirt road in the woods. It’s a giant highway upon which you can get anywhere that life wants to take you. Following it really will lead you to success in work, in relationships, and in raising your children. It will take you on a journey that you can’t possibly imagine, one you have to experience to understand. I also like to think of every martial artist, in the beginning, as raw material. However seriously you take this journey, you are raw material, and your finished product is going to be an immaculate, gleaming weapon. It will have the ability to kill, and it will also have the ability to attract. It is of immense value, sometimes even priceless. And it takes time to make, but once it’s made, it is cherished by those who possess it.
A samurai sword is an absolutely beautiful weapon and instrument. It can be hung up for decoration. It can be given as an award. It’s cherished as an historic relic. The samurai sword is an almost indestructible weapon created thousands of years ago by people who had to use them on a daily basis. So, the samurai sword is a phenomenal analogy for the individual who will choose to take this path in training. The raw material that goes into making such a sword is just a big pile of nothing in the beginning. You would not recognize what it was if you walked by it on the street. As a matter of fact, you would probably clean it up and throw it in the garbage. A master craftsman will take this raw material, and heat it, and hammer it until it begins to take shape. Then it is put under even more stress, heated up and stretched out and folded, pounded and beaten, then plunged into water and cooled over and over again, until it transcends its humble beginnings and you can begin to see what the outcome of all that hard work will be. By the time he is finished, that sword is razor-sharp and gleaming, arguably one of the finest weapons ever created. As a student of martial arts and self-defense, you can choose to stay in that raw form. Or you can choose to be transformed into this samurai sword. The master craftsman, in this case, is the instructor, or book, or other source of knowledge which forges you into a shining example of what you can be, and what you can learn, by taking this journey, this lifelong journey that is so enriching and so rewarding. Once you become this weapon, once you have this skill, once you become this instrument that can not only put people in awe but also devastate someone with one blow, you can never take it for granted. You have to keep the blade sharp. You must never let it rust. You must never let it get dull. You must never let it collect dust. The journey is about making that sword, and then keeping it sharp by never letting your skills and your knowledge fall to the wayside and become ineffective. You work so hard to get to the point where you are that samurai sword.
You need to work just as hard to keep the blade sharp.
(Extract from Psychology of Self-Defense, written by Christopher Sutton)