The buzzer rang, the time read 2 minutes 59 seconds and counting. My instructors words gave me a false sense of comfort, “10%, okay?”, I nodded in agreement. We began to move in on each other, staying light on our feet trying to inflict 10% of damage with each blow. I clenched my fists tight and moved around the mat room, trying to figure out how I was going to land a blow. I formulated a plan, fake a jab than throw a cross. I executed my movement and made contact with the center of his face… success!! “good, work” he said. His eyes now focused a little harder, his chin tucked into his chest a little deeper and his weight dropped just an inch lower. A barrage of strikes ensued all making contact with my body and face. I did my best to block, bob and weave; however, it was all in vein. My only solution was to back up as fast as I could to avoid the strikes which were coming in at nearly 100%. “Liar”, I thought. My back hit a wall and a hook in my left lung knocked what ever oxygen I had left out of my body. I was now in a standing fetal position, against the imaginary ropes attempting to save whatever pride I had left. “Bzzzzzzzzzzz”, the buzzer rang again reading 0 minutes 0 seconds. I panted deeply trying to catch my breath. “You gave up”, he said as he detached the velcro straps from his gloves.
I did give up and at that very moment I realized it. I was a twenty four year old rookie cop and I thought of myself as “strong”. However, that 3 min round proved otherwise. My body may have felt strong, but my mind was not. I was not prepared to endure the barrage of strikes and maintain my resolve. I would like to say that was the last time I gave up during a drill, but that would be a lie.
Years have now passed and I realized what I lacked in those early years of training, Kokoro. Kokoro is the “indomitable spirit”, as the Korean martial artists describe. It means to refuse defeat, to drive on when all else fails. This isn’t only reserved for the ring, but it is of utmost importance in our lives. The ability to have a strong drive and commitment to everything we do in life is crucial to any progress you plan to make. Its an ancient term used heavily in the “martial way”, and its incredibly important today.
Building your Kokoro requires you to have a strong “why”. A strong reason to keep on your path to improvement. For us fathers, it is our families. If we don’t have a strong will, how do we continually improve our health and well being? And, if we find ourselves in bad health, or in a miserable state, who suffers? well, its going to be your family and you. Just about all of us can relate to this reason to drive on.
Without Kokoro we will find any excuse to skip the workout or give up half way. Whether its because we feel tired that day or our favorite show is on. Not having Kokoro is going to cut your progress short. Kokoro isn’t a temporary state, its a life you’ve forged over action. You build your will by continual progress in the face of challenges.
One way to build Kokoro is through making small victories. Accepting small challenges that eventually build your will. And, of course with Shaguyo (rigorous challenges) you test your will, your Kokoro. This begins by executing your plan and staying on the path. Embrace each challenge, don’t shy away from it.
As fathers, we have a slew of excuses to skip the workout or not show up to the Gym. Trust me, I can think of 5 excuses right now to stop writing. The moment you become a father it becomes nearly impossible to maintain your “pre-kids” workout program; however, with a strong sense to drive on and a never give up attitude, you will find that time. Tired and hungry you’ll execute your workout daily. Its easy to say “I used to” and fall into the status quo; however, your Kokoro will make it difficult to give up on your progress. You’ll instead adapt. Its what all driven human beings have done, they’ve adapted. Kokoro doesn’t allow your life to happen to you, but you will happen to your life. With small actions daily you will stay on track and continue to grow, adapt, and progress.
Life can throw blow after blow. Sometimes you may feel as if your up against the “ropes”. Your a husband and father. You are counted on and you need a strong will to drive through. With a strong will, you’ll always have the fire inside to keep on the path.