Indomitable Spirit

My youngest son achieved his orange belt in Karate last night. He is 8 years old.

I watched the grading process with casual interest. Children, teenagers, and adults all working through the various moves associated with their respective belt levels. Of course I followed my son’s actions with much greater interest. He is very focused and he is very passionate.

At the end of the grading process the students were asked to kneel and to close their eyes. A certificate was placed before each student. And then the new belt. The students were asked to remove their old belt and to fold the old belt and place it in front. With both hands on the belt, the students were asked to bow forward and bid farewell to the old belt. The students then placed both hands on the new belt. They bowed forward and accepted their new belts.

The teaching master gave the students some interesting perspective.

“Minimum effort achieves minimum results,” he said. “Too many people approach their lives this way. And they wonder why they do not achieve anything in their lives. Work hard, be disciplined and be focused. You will achieve much through hard work. You have all achieved something tonight. You had a goal and you reached that goal.”

There are a number of values posted on the walls of this dojo and the one that speaks to me is indomitable spirit. I doubt that few parents in this dojo reflect on the meaning of this particular value.

Indomitable spirit, or fudo shin in Japanese, is armor for our heart, the immovable mind. It allows us to realize what must be done, and then stick to it and see it through no matter what. It is not rigidity, but commitment. To continue to make progress, either flexibility or rigidity may be called for at varying times, but ultimately, we must not give up on what we know to be true.

Such an important lesson to learn. At any age.

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