Most of us hold a romanticized notion of climbing mountains. The metaphor is irresistible. Standing before something so much larger than ourselves, it seems impossible to climb. Some do, and we call them heroes. In Martial Arts, students learn that the “mountain” is only what we make of it. Understanding this is a key to success in life, and it’s exactly what you’ll learn on your way to black belt, no matter what age you begin the journey.
Grandmaster DeMasco wrote in his book, The Shaolin Way, "What Shaolin teaches, and what has evaded most of us, is that the mountain - whatever it means to you on any given day - is simply what you make it. The mountain - whatever it is - is a myth...Until we see that there is actually no mountain except the roadblocks we put in our own way, we will never go free." In other words, “I can’t” is never a fact. It’s only a belief you hold right now, and those beliefs can change.”
It all starts on that first day, in that first lesson, when you find yourself doing something you never thought you could do. Whether it’s breaking a board or learning to throw someone much larger than you, you begin to realize that you can do so much more than you ever thought possible. This isn’t just something the teens and adults experience, either. Look at a three-year-old in an introductory lesson sometime. When she breaks the board or kicks over the bag, she looks straight at her parent and says, “Hey, look what I can do.” It’s not, “I bet I can,” it’s “look what I DID!”
With each new power stripe, each new belt, each new move and each new form, every student gains the confidence and the knowledge – yes, knowledge – that they can reach as high and go as far as their goals can dream.
That lesson translates to everything in life. For younger students, it might be raising a hand in class or standing up to the playground bully or taking a tougher course. For adults, it may be applying for that promotion or dream job, building the relationships or forging the career we’ve dreamed about since we were little.
What Grandmaster talked about, and it dates back to the earliest wisdom of Shaolin, is that the obstacles in our lives are usually what we place there ourselves. Even if it really is a physical handicap or a genuine disability, those things are still only as big an obstacle as we let them become. Every step along the way to black belt builds this confidence and wisdom.
Join us. Let’s climb that mountain together.