I'd like to say I found my purpose the first time I stepped into a dojo and threw my first punch, however, this is far from the truth. The reason I got started in martial arts, like many people, is that I was bullied as a kid and had very low self-esteem. Gradually by consistent practice I built up confidence and eventually was able to throw some decent punches, kicks and so on.
At that time I felt my purpose was not to get bullied. I would soon find out how shallow a purpose that was.
Enter Kung Fu. A new school opened up in town and I figured I'd go check him out. I thought I knew what to look for since I had gotten a bit of a confidence boost from 2 years of karate. I walked into a class of people standing still. Having no idea what they were doing, I asked the teacher some questions. He explained that the standing practice was an exercise called temple stances and that they were a cornerstone of kung fu practice. I agreed to participate in the next class, and I quickly found out how difficult a practice it was. After a few classes I started questioning how do we apply these techniques to self-defense, every time without fail, I would throw a random technique and end up either on the floor, in a twisted position, or with a hand in my face. Suffice to say my questions were answered.
After a month or so I decided to take Kung Fu classes full time, the tai chi practice soon followed. With this practice came a new purpose, one that affected the rest of my life. This newfound purpose was a practice of self-development. Underlying this practice was a deep respect for culture, traditions, and lineage.
Some Kung Fu quotes that helped me fortify this purpose:
When you drink a glass of water,
Always be mindfull, see through the red dust.
Train hard! Better to have the skill and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
This purpose of self-development is a major factor to why I joined the USMC. To show myself what I was capable of. In those years of hardship, I shaped the purpose of my entire life, although at the time I didn't know it.
Part 2 Coming next week
Daniel R. Hyde