Grandmaster Rose 01/1994 Winter Address
C&S Self Defense Association
Dear Students and Friends,
I hope you all had a marvelous Holiday, and that prospects for the New Year are wonderful. So many of you have expressed to me either directly or through your instructor a renewed sense of enthusiasm in your everyday lives. Our economy has adversely affected us all, and this has made training difficult. When our minds are filled with thoughts of losing our jobs, or how we are to support our families, it becomes difficult to look optimistically at the world around us and to speak philosophically about how wonderful life is. The key word here is "difficult". I did not say impossible. There is an important difference.
And this is where we separate the Martial Artists from the wanna-bes: this is where we find out the strength of our own belief in ourselves nurtured through our study of the Art. We have all suffered in this economic downturn in one way or another, some greater than others. But no excuse is great enough to absolve someone who uses the economy as a reason to terminate their training. It is the training that C&S Self Defense Association instructors receive that gives them the strength to keep going even when that going seems almost immaterial or impossible. It is the Art, the way that I have shared it with your instructor who in turn shares it with you, that is a source of light in all the darkness of economic despair.
I teach you to rely on the power of positive thinking backed up by positive action. But be careful in feeling that just "thinking" positively is enough. It is not. You can sit down and hum "I'm happy. I'm healthy. I'm terrific. I'm calm." until you get sores on your but and bleeding gums, but that in itself is no where near sufficient to make you "happy, healthy, terrific, or calm". You must not only think positively; you must act and work positively.
One of my former advanced Black Belts quit our Association because he had spent years and years muttering, "I'm happy. I'm healthy. I'm terrific. I'm calm." but admitted that no matter how much he repeated this mantra, he was not happy; he was not healthy, he was not terrific, and he was not calm. I tried to explain the problem to him, but he instead blamed me and my teachings on his failure to attain a state of living peace and harmony. Too bad. He is sadly mistaken. To simply babble token phrases, no matter for how long, is insufficient to cause any changes to occur in ones life. Words alone are not enough. We must apply action and work to the words.
We have to take the responsibility to work at being happy, healthy, terrific, and calm- not just saying we want to be. I teach a very specific and detailed plan of action that I expect each of you to follow. If you do not follow my plan, then I can not guarantee success in achieving your goals. If you do not work this plan on a consistent basis over a long enough period of time, then how could anyone expect anything other than failure? My method of teaching is proven; so many who follow my direction achieve success in their lives and they know from where and how this occurred. That is why so many of my senior level students have stayed with me for 10, 15, even 20 years. Why would anyone do that unless they benefited by it, and continued to benefit from it? Obviously, they would not. And so the solution to success in our system is that you are going to have to work at the plan that I present to you. If you don't work, then your failure will be your own fault; not mine. So if you fail, please don't blame me or the system; blame yourself, and get on with your life.
For those of you who try, success will be yours. I can promise you that. Now, how long it will take for you to achieve this is immaterial. Some may accomplish in six years what another may be able to accomplish in six months. The important thing is that the success is there, at some point, for those who persist.
I'd like to share a couple of quotes that are relevant to this discussion which I have used in a book I am currently writing. I found a quote I had long ago copied out of one of my history texts. I think it was said by Calvin Coolidge:
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not because there is nothing more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. In fact, unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. That is why the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
George H. Allen, former NFL coach of the Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Rams who not only took these teams to the Superbowl, but who also (at the age of 72) brought the losing, lackluster Long Beach State 49ers to success had this to say about persistence when he was chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports:
"One of the most difficult things everyone has to learn is that for your entire life you must keep fighting and adjusting if you hope to survive. No matter who you are or what your position, you must keep fighting for whatever it is you desire to achieve. If someone is not aware of this contest and expects otherwise, then constant disappointment occurs. People who fail sometimes do not realize that the simple answer to everyday achievement is to keep fighting. Health, happiness and success depend upon the fighting spirit of each person. The big thing is not what happens to us in life- but what we do about what happens to us."
Persistence in purpose is second only to having a purpose to be persistent in. Without a commitment to be persistent in any endeavor that we undertake, we will be unable to deal with the setbacks that are sure to befall us. We must need to succeed, because without that need there can be no survival; no "coming back". When a major setback occurs, we have to put things into perspective. Our life is not over. We must learn from the situation, make corrections, and continue on with confidence and expectation of future success. The only other alternative is to "go in the can". We must decide ahead of time which choice we will make. If we haven't got the internal fortitude to go on, then (instead of "going in the can" at some future date and perhaps permanently destroying our personal self image) we should forget about living a real life and simply take up video games, channel surfing, or something less less demanding.
The only way that we can decide ahead of time if we have this quality of persistence is to "know ourselves", in the Taoist sense of the term expressed by Lao Tzu. The person who has this depth of understanding is at peace with himself. He understands that life is constantly changing around him: sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. But he knows that in the long run, all will work out for him if he follows the principles of "right living" and "right thinking".
Can you see that success is based in persistent action? Please discuss these things with your instructor. He or she can guide you to a more rewarding life if only you are willing to work at the plan they present to you as opposed to just "thinking" positively about it. Do not do this Art for entertainment; it is too important for that. Our Art is our life. This is why we live our lives as we study our Art.
In our art,
Grandmaster Peter M. Rose