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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Change Is Okay. And So Is Quitting.

This is something that's popped up in conversation with a few people recently, in one form or another.

Change is okay.

Martial arts instructors like to sell the idea that once you start studying an art, you should never stop. That you should spend your whole and entire life deeply investigating a single style or system, and that to abandon your training is tantamount to failure, representing a lack of discipline at best, and some kind of serious moral failing at worst.

I'm writing this to say that that's not true.

The caveat: I'm not talking about someone who spends 3-4 months training in a style, and then promptly changes schools, constantly seeking the next best thing. That person is on a fast-track to nowhere (though, I might argue, if they're having fun doing it, who really cares that much?).

I'm talking about the serious, dedicated student who, for one reason or another, feels the need to change. To move on. To refocus.

With few exceptions, most people who train the martial arts do it as a hobby. Yeah, I's a lifestyle. That's a nice sentiment, but let's be real for a second; unless there is a direct correlation between your training and your ability to support yourself and your family, you don't HAVE to keep training. It may be a very important hobby to you, but it's still a hobby.

And it's okay for hobbies to change. For you to lose interest. For you to move on.

I spent close to five years studying Aikido, and was pretty diligent about that practice. Then one day, I folded up my gi and hakama, put them away, and have never looked back. It wasn't that I didn't learn anything from my time in Aikido, or that I didn't value the lessons I learned there, but it wasn't what I needed or wanted any more. So I moved on.

If you substitute the word "racquetball" for "Aikido" in that paragraph, and change the name of the gear, no one anywhere would bat an eye. People start and stop new activities all the time.

If someone tells you that you must never stop training, that you can never quit, it's worth asking if that's a mindset that benefits them or you. If you're paying someone money to train you, the idea that you should never quit certainly benefits them. Whether or not it helps you is secondary.

Life is supposed to be about growth and change. So grow and change.


Gladiator Girl said...

I couldn't agree with this more :)

Gladiator Girl said...

I couldn't agree with this more :) said...

Probably obvious point, but I think that's because many (not all) martial arts styles come loaded with spiritual and/or philosophical baggage. This probably makes sense since many arts started out as being something people trained to fight (and thus injure and kill people) with in life or death situations. Most other sports/hobbies don't come with that history (or really, even capability except maybe in the case of contact sports). I'm not disagreeing with you at all (two-time Judo "quitter" talking here) but I think that has to be a big reason for the difference.

Neil Bednar said...

Funny how it is COMPLETELY acceptable to quit jobs left and right and move onto something else....