The practice of the Martial Ways is really, in its most basic sense, a search for hardship. One of my teachers, Yoshioka Sadao Sensei, used to tell us that the most important concept in our practice should be “Kokoro wo Migaku,” a Japanese phrase that means “Polish your Spirit.” Yoshioka Sensei told us that in its regular form our spirit is like a craggy piece of granite. You need to grind away at it regularly to make it into a mirror. The way that you do that is to actively seek out hardship. Each act of difficulty grinds away, little by little, at your spirit until it becomes a mirror.
As we practice Jidokwan, or any other Martial Way, we should look at hardship as an opportunity to improve ourselves. Those who have a harder time learning techniques because they don’t have the coordination or body technique to quickly master what is taught actually have an advantage. These people are the ones that have to practice with diligence, over and over again, each part of what is taught before they can reasonably recreate the technique themselves. This provides a much deeper understanding of each movement than the person who sees something once and is able to recreate the movement effortlessly.
Taking the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, giving up alcohol or sweets to test your resolve for a period of time, waking up early, purposefully doing something that you really would prefer not to do—these are all examples of choosing hardship: Polishing Your Heart.
Success in Martial Ways, and in Life, means doing things that you don’t necessarily want to do. Training is not inevitably a straight line. Trying harder to learn something does not necessarily translate into a shorter time frame for success. This is not a bad thing though, because the extra effort needed to succeed gives you more time to Polish Your Heart.