Martial Arts is probably the one sport that people constantly say “maybe I’ll try it someday”, “I’m not in shape for it”, “I’m too old”, or insert any other excuse here.
You don’t have to be the most flexible person ever. You don’t have to kick the highest, punch the hardest, be the strongest, or have the best technique. You don’t need to be the fastest or have the best footwork. You may not have accomplished your fitness goals quite yet. You don’t have to have the perfect form (which doesn’t exist). Weapons may not be your thing and that’s ok. Sparring might be more than your body can safely handle for medical reasons or you just plain might not care for it. Getting whacked in the head in combat repeatedly isn’t fun, but it happens and not everyone enjoys hitting someone else with a padded stick. We’ve seen you don’t need arms to be a successful martial artist and you don’t need to be able to move your legs to do martial arts in the ATA. The body can have its issues, but the spirit doesn’t need to be compromised.
You do have to be willing to try though. Stepping in the door the first time is the hardest. You do have to deal with occasional feelings of discouragement and that’s totally fine, because improvement is not linear. Ask just about any black belt if they’ve ever been frustrated by something on their journey and they can probably give you a giant list; forgetting several moments, because there’s been so many. Forms get forgotten at extremely inconvenient times. Weapons get dropped or whack you in the head. You lose a sparring match in sudden victory, because you fell for your opponent’s set up. That combat stick goes flying out of your hand costing you the match or you “no change” at testing, because you couldn’t break a stubborn board. It happens.
But, no matter the circumstances, you can make that conscious decision to stop making excuses and try. Respect, confidence, perseverance, discipline, self-esteem, dedication, and determination beat limitations when the limitations seem insurmountable. It’s about the spirit, drive, and will to succeed. When the view switches from what one can do well instead of what they “can’t” or don’t do quite as well yet, that’s when true martial artists and black belts are made.
There’s not one martial artist in the world that “has it all”, because that would require perfection and humans aren’t perfect, but the past, present, and future black belts are the white belts who never gave up. Any given day, I may have more or less control over my dysfunctional body. At tournaments or testings, I might mess up badly. Anyone who does it long enough will have their moments. However, the desire, will, discipline, respect, and perseverance are more important, because that’s a section of the standard I attempt to hold myself to each day both on the mats and in life. I can have an “off day” physically and it may be beyond my control, but there’s no valid excuse by the standards I hold myself to for anything less than black belt attitude, because it’s the one thing I can control 100% of the time.
It’s one thing to try it for a while and see if you like it before making a decision, but those that never try will never know what could have happened if they’d tried.