Adult Student’s Corner
by Sifu D’arcy Langois
“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” ~ Arthur Ashe
In Kung Fu, as in life, most folks have a plan in their heads of what they’d most like to accomplish. They plan to start at position A and work their way directly to the end point at position B, experiencing nothing but success along the way. Then, it is time to roll the credits, celebrating the wonderful journey that was had. Unfortunately, this type of journey rarely happens outside of books and movies, with reality being a much different thing. What starts off as a straight trip leads through mountains and valleys, across rivers and lakes, to cliff faces and chasms. The journey is rarely as simple as it seems, and often requires some fancy navigation.
This can be a tough pill for a lot of people to swallow, especially when they get hung up on thoughts of where they should be versus where they currently are. When you examine your Grading Requirements sheets, you will see some important information: the forms, and techniques you will be learning at your level, as well as the length of time and the number of classes you are required to spend at that rank. This last piece is where some students begin to lose focus from the journey itself and turn their eyes to the destination. The number of classes and the length of time at a rank are only guidelines, and minimum ones at that. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking “I’ve been at this rank for the proper length of time, therefore I must move onto the next rank”. Fixating on the number of classes attended rather than the skills learned along the way, can sometimes lead to thoughts of failure as a student. Believe me when I say: no instructor will ever judge you for spending extra time at a rank, it’s just not the way we look at things at the Academy.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have far-reaching goals in Kung Fu. It’s important to think about where you want to go, but it’s equally important to experience (and hopefully enjoy) the process of getting there. Setting non-grading specific goals (e.g. mastering a specific block, kick, or form) is just one way to feel like you are moving along your path, even without the tangible evidence of a new sash. I encourage you to spend more time focusing on your Kung Fu journey over your Kung Fu destination. If you can manage that, you’ll likely come out thinking better of yourself and have more fun along the way.