The Reckoning Cometh on the Morrow

Posted: July 9, 2010 in Martial Arts, Spiritual

Tomorrow, I go before Kwan Jang Nim Tony Thompson, cofounder of Ernie Reyes’ World Martial Arts, to test for the rank of Sa Bum Nim, that is Third Degree Black Belt, the title of which means “One who is a shining example to those around him.” I do not go alone; many come to support me, and I test next to several candidates for First and Second, and two for Third. All of whom I am proud to share the field of battle with. It is for them, if none else, that I post this.

I am constantly beset by doubt and fear today. Every nerve ending in my body seems to be on edge, the very breath caught in my throat. But I will not be defeated. I will not be crushed. I have trained hard, I have put the work in. Aye, perhaps I might have done more – but that thought shall always be present. Looking back, one can always see where he might have put more effort here, rested more here, gone right instead of left here. I cannot help the past. I cannot change what other people think or say or do. But I can control my attitude.

I am reminded that in The Book of Five Rings, “attitude” is the word used for a sword stance. Our attitudes are not simple things – they are a stance we take against forces that war against our minds, both internal and external. This year, my attitude shall be once of ferocity and courage. Courage does not come to those who know the outcome, or those without fear. Courage comes to those who must face great hardship and the outcome is uncertain, but they cling to faith, and charge forward.

I am reminded of the Pilgrim’s Progress, and now see that his test that lies before me is a living allegory such as this tale:

The Interpreter took Christian by the hand, and led him into a pleasant place, where was built a stately palace, beautiful to behold; at the sight of which Christian was greatly delighted; he saw also upon the top thereof certain persons walking, who were clothed all in gold.

So the Interpreter took Christian, and led him up towards the door of the palace; and behold, at the door stood a great company of men, as desirous to go in, but durst not. There also sat a man at a little distance from the door, at a table-side, with a book and his ink-horn be-fore him, to take the names of them that should enter therein; he saw also that in the door-way stood many men in armour to keep it, being re-solved to do to the men that would enter, what hurt and mischief they could.

Now was Christian somewhat in amaze: at last, when every man started back for fear of the armed men, Christian saw a man of a very stout countenance come up to the man that sat there to write, saying,“Set down my name, sir”; the which when he had done, he saw the man draw his sword, and put a helmet upon his head, and rush towards the door upon the armed men, who laid upon him with deadly force; but the man, not at all discouraged, fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely.

So after he had received and given many wounds to those who attempted to keep him out, he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward into the palace; at which there was a pleasant voice heard from those that were within, even of those that walked upon the top of the palace, saying,

Come in, come in,

Eternal glory thou shalt win!

Set down my name, sir.

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