Wisdom of the Ages

by Burton Richardson December 10, 2016

Quotations that survive through the years are often gems of inspiration that can shape and point lives. Martial artists who constantly strive to better themselves can peruse these bits of wisdom just as they ponder the words of the sifu or sensei. Here are a few for you to think about. Mark Twain is always good for a quote. How about this one. “There is nothing that training cannot do, nothing is beyond its reach.” This is a great affirmation of the belief that we all have the power to change. We don’t have to remain at our present level. If you want to kick better, train your legs. If you want to be a great puncher, train with a boxing coach. If you want a better job, get the training that will qualify you. All it takes is direction and hard work. I used to feel that success was so far away that it was improbable if not altogether impossible. One of the things that changed my mind was a particular definition of success. “You are successful when you are actively progressing toward your goal.” If you are actively progressing toward a goal, you will certainly reach it. The only variable is time. It also helps to have a good plan. In the martial arts, we develop tactics to handle different types of opponents. Do the same for any goal you want to reach. Figure out a good method of attacking any problems that occur and always flow around the resistance. Each time you take action toward the goal you should feel a glow of accomplishment. Success is as sure as your actions. Paul de Thouars, grandmaster of pentjak silat serak, often says, ” When in a fight, you are the director and he (the opponent) is the directee. You must take charge in a fight and make the enemy conform to your wishes. Otherwise, you will be at the mercy of the bad guy.” Same thing in life. You can’t wait for good things to happen to you, you must create them. Take charge and do the things that you want to do. It’s your life so live it in the way you wish. Want to go to Hawaii? Can’t afford it? Figure out a way to swing it. Use your brain. If nothing else, put away a dollar a day for a couple of years. You can do anything you want as long as you take charge and make it happen. One of my favorite sayings is, “You only see the obstacles when you take your eyes off the goal.” This quote reminds me of when I was learning the trapping hands of wing chun kung-fu. I became so obsessed with which trap to use and which trap comes next that and which hand goes where that I forgot that the object was to hit the opponent. Once I began to concentrate on the goal, I could trap spontaneously to remove any obstacle between my fist and my opponent’s face. Be positive and avoid dwelling on the difficulties that lay ahead. Concentrate on the goal and you will find a way to reach it. The Filipino martial arts gives us the saying, “Tira ng tira hangang matapos.” This means, “Hit and hit until it is finished.” Great advice for a physical altercation but also an allegory for getting through though times in life. Persistence is a very important quality to develop if you want to succeed. People will tell you that you’ve set your sights too high or that your goal is unreachable. Setbacks will occur, but if you push on and on you will eventually break through any resistance. Keep plugging away and don’t stop until you get the results you desire. The last quote is from a highly accomplished Hollywood stuntman named Jon Epstein. He and fellow stuntman extraordinaire Bob Brown travel the world doing the things that famous actors can’t. How is it that after years of success both of these men are constantly doing bigger and better stunts? Jon likes to say, “It’s not what you were, it’s what you are now.” This is great advice for the martial artist who has achieved some goal such as a black belt or an instructorship. A certificate of accomplishment is great, but it only describes one point in time. Dan Inosanto points our that plenty of guys could bench press 300 pounds in college, but very few maintained that strength over the years. Relish your accomplishments, then move ahead. You’ll make better progress by keeping your eyes on the road instead of in the rearview mirror. Memorize the positive quotes that you find and use them for motivation. You can change your life and every shingle one of you can reach your goal. Make a plan, keep a positive focus, and never, ever give up!


Burton Richardson
Burton Richardson

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