When I was awarded my Black Sash by Sifu Linda and Sifu Garry Baniecki it marked the achievement of a milestone, but it didn’t mark the end of the journey. Many people set achieving a black belt level as their end goal, but that is a mistake.
To me, becoming a black belt just meant was I was now a senior student of Wing Chun Kung Fu – now my real journey begins to plumb the depths of skill within myself and discover the real pearls and treasures of learning and knowledge within myself that Wing Chun can reveal.
Along the way, I have learnt that patience, persistence, perseverance, self-discipline and commitment are qualities essential to success in Wing Chun, just as they are in life.
Nothing of great value, such as a career, a marriage, a financially secure future, or achieving skill in Wing Chun, is built up in a short time – these things are of great value and they don’t come easily or without struggle.
Let’s face it .. if becoming a black belt was easy, everyone would be one, but the reality is that only 1% of students (1 in 100) will ever achieve that level.
Wing Chun taught me how to deal with all the knocks and blows that we all face in our day to day lives. I learned that yielding is not losing, that like the bamboo or willow that we don't have to fight force with force.
Long term success takes persevering through the boring times, the mundane sessions where you feel you’re not learning anything, the lessons where you feel totally incompetent and the lessons where your ego takes a battering by being criticised or bruised by an opponents blows.
Sometimes I felt like I went two steps backwards to go one step forwards. Many times I felt just plain uncoordinated or slow - and wanted to give up – and accept that I just wasn’t good enough.
Sometimes life just gets in the way, with family, school or work pressures creating their own demands on your time and the temptation to drop out is high. It’s easy to quit – it takes hard work to continue doing something when the return seems so far away.
Many times, when I would get in the car to drive to Melbourne for my weekly lessons with Sifu Garry and Linda, and I’d had a bad day at work, or I wasn’t feeling well, or I thought I was too old, or that I was never going to be good at it, or my family wanted me at home ... the temptation was there to just not go .. that would have been easy.
Two times before, I had quit Wing Chun .. but this time I would not give up. That is what I would tell myself. I will not let life stop me from doing something I love doing. I will not look back on my life and accept that I failed to do something I wanted to do my whole life, but betrayed myself by allowing life or my own weaknesses to get in the way.
The reward for me is that now I am an instructor and passing on my growing Wing Chun skills to my students. That is GOLD. To see kids and adults lacking in confidence and self-discipline becoming confident and strong in their character is a reward you just can’t put a price on.
My own skills and knowledge are continuing to grow, as I am sure they will until the day when my students take over from me.
Wing Chun is like an eternal bank. Every lesson trained is like a deposit towards your future and the real wealth you are accumulating is the positive growth in your character as a person – living a better life in the true spirit of a martial artist.
So when times get tough, just be patient - persist and persevere.
The journey is made one step at a time. Along the way, you discover that fighting your inner battles and overcoming obstacles is a recipe for success not only in Wing Chun, but in life itself.