Soke often councils to train even when injured. The logic in this is clear. You may be forced to deal with a mortal threat when you are injured; you may have to perform when you are not at your best. What may not be so clearly defined is how you deal with sickness. Obviously, the polite budoka will refrain from training in the dojo when his presence may infect others with an illness. But, what should you do regarding strength and endurance training, rutai undo, or your personal budo studies?
Recently, I fell ill and was confronted with a training dilemma. Should I maintain a consistent training regimen or should I rest and wait out a minor illness? I think it’s more important to maintain consistency. Generally, if you can maintain a behavior for two weeks it becomes ingrained as a habit. Therefore, consistency and desirable habit formation are keys to long term success. Minor illnesses, a flu, cough, or sore throat should not constitute a sufficient impediment to interfere with the momentum built in daily practice. The warrior’s path is challenging and demands the pursuit of excellence. Dedication demands consistent effort. Soke says, “The repetition of daily training leads to the way of a great warrior.”
In my own life, I have found that when I think I cannot, I discover that I can. Often, training will make one feel better when ill. Often, training will speed a recovery. However, judgement must be exercised and one would be ill advised to train when struggling with a serious illness. Recently, I struggled with a persistent cough and I waged an internal battle over wether to push myself physically. Thoughts immediately arose, whispering that I was too tired, that I would make myself worse, that I should just rest for one more day. I chose to go on my routine endurance run and discovered that I was stronger than I thought and even felt better during my run and suffered no ill effects afterward. Life will always present you with a multitude of reasons as to why you can’t. But, you have the ability to choose. You must decide, are the ends worth the means? If the answer for you is yes, then conquer the obstacles of the moment. You need only defeat the dragon in the moment, the immediate is all you need control. Bufu Ikkan.
The above painting is by Soke Masaaki Hatsumi "Bushin wa wo motte tootoshi to nasu" (The martial heart holds harmony sacred)
"Hatsumi Soke always says that one must not act for 'personal reasons' or 'based on one's own thoughts'. The next important thing is the 'heart of persistent training". The essence of the martial arts is to have no "openings'. Thorough the training, one learns how to eliminate one's physical and mental vulnerabilities. However, human immaturity means that over the long period of training, uninvited thoughts and selfish ideas creep in. Finally, there is the important 'heart of endurance'. The natural world is blessed with seasons: nature does not give us any flowers or fruit until the right time has come. Nature also changes - it is not always fine weather. Walking a stony path is the destiny of anyone who trains."
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