A grading affects people very differently. For some it is a positive reinforcement of their personal achievements. For some it is a frustrating comparison; they look at others and think that they just aren’t very good and wonder why they bother. I want to address the latter group.
There are so many activities that we do which we will never excel at. Some we do because we understand that it is better to be better at something than worse. Some we do for the shear pleasure of the activity. Some we do for the satisfaction of achievement irrespective of whether we do it very well and some we do because we feel we ought or have a sense of duty, or we just can’t get out of.
The last sort of activities are those things that we have no intention of excelling at. I’m thinking of cleaning, washing, ironing etc. Don’t get me wrong, I know many people, not only excel at such things, but also take great satisfaction and personal pride in them. I don’t. I do them when they have to be done, usually a few days after my wife thinks they need doing, but I do them.
Many people work out to be in better shape. They are pretty sure they will never be on the cover of some health magazine, but on a graduated spectrum from Mr. Blobby to The Rock, they would rather be nearer one end than the other.
Most sporting activities are done by those who simply enjoy the activity for the experience itself, with absolutely no real intention or expectation of being very good at it. I make a distinction between these activities and those in which we try to be better, but for the personal satisfaction of progress, but still don’t expect to be very good. For example, many people play musical instruments, learning pieces of music that they don’t actually like, but they are aiming for some next level of competence.
The satisfaction of personal achievement is a great incentive. I could employ a gardener and have better results, but I enjoy the garden so much more because I did the work. When a bulb comes up in the spring, it’s not just a flower with its simple esthetic qualities; it will be the flower that my wife planted there and that is a whole extra level of appreciation.
I recently embarked on making my first bow. It probably goes without saying that with materials, extra tools and my time, I could have just bought one cheaper that would, very likely, be better. However, the satisfaction of making it myself, the increase of my own skill and my understanding and appreciation of the mechanics of archery, all make the effort well worthwhile.
Kung Fu is a journey. It is about achieving mastery through hard work. It takes time, thought, focus and sweat. You will be a bit better each week. You will have skills that others don’t and they will shape who you are. Those skills will change the way you see the rest of the world in relation to yourself. You will change they way you control your body, the vehicle that you need to live in this world. You will change the way you interact with others; more confident and self assured. You will fear less and that will enable you to love more; our world expands of contracts in proportion to level of our fear of it. When you fear much, you live in a restricted place surrounded by enemies. When you fear no one, you can live in an expansive place, full of potential friends.
Will others be better than you? For sure. Is that a reason not to paint water-colour landscapes or play Sunday football or a guitar or Call of Duty? Being the best you can be will always be a reward in itself.
What if, at the end, the person you become had to meet the person you could have been?