"The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body and polish the spirit."
I get a fair amount of people asking questions about how long it will take to defend themselves. People want to know: How long will it take to get my black belt or my next rank? What should my short and long term goals be? Where should I be in 1, 2 or 5 years? What should I be working on? What should I get out of my training? etc. etc.
First off, I don't view training (martial arts) like this. Secondly, only you can really determine what you want out of your training and how you choose to fit it in your life.
My approach to training is an ongoing practice, a lifestyle; like working out, going to church or taking yoga, it never really ends. It's something that grows and breathes with me helping me to Live, Protect & Inspire.
Next month will mark my 40th year training. It started with me and my dad working out in the basement of our house. I have trained, taught and competed all over the world. I have met many, many incredible people and have been blessed with insightful teachers and mentors throughout my journey. It's had its, ups, downs and everything in between. It's been a great ride and God willing I'll be training for 40+ more years. My goal is to keep going!
How long will it take an individual to defend themselves? You are already a protector, just make sure you are protecting the right things! Training is meant to help us to gain the power to be clearer, more ethical and effective protectors.
As for the structure and purpose of class: It is to provide a healthy environment and community to clarify our protector ethic, increase and maintain our emotional and physical fitness level as we train to protect ourselves and others more effectively and deeply.
Regarding rank; ultimately rank is not the main goal of my teaching, or of class, however testing (for rank) can be a part of a students process if the they choose. It's more of a mentoring relationship (w/yourself, people at the academy and with me) than it is checking a laundry list to fulfill requirements (like in college). Each test rank has guidelines but is also somewhat flexible and unique to the individual. The student receives feedback, encouragement and responsibilities as they move along the process.
We hold testing 2x per year. Only a portion of the test is actually at class. Most of the challenge resides in making the commitment with everything else in your life to undertake the testing ordeal. Although everyone is different, students typically test about 1x per year when consistently:
1) Attending class 2x to 3x per week
2) Attending specialty classes when appropriate (i.e. testing class, intermediate and advanced class)
3) Going to the seminars... and of course
4) Practicing on your own!
It may be longer between tests depending on attendance, attitude and ability of the student. Everyone is different, it is individualized. You don't have to kill yourself to come to every class, seminar, etc, if that doesn't work for you. It has to fit in with your life. Be patient with yourself. The rank process can take as long as you need it to to fit in w/how much time you have to train. It's ok, it's really about staying healthy, re-calibrating and maintaining a protector lifestyle.
In our academy there are 7 basic practitioner ranks (White, Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Brown, Black) and 6 testing processes.
Earning your black belt at our academy can take between 5 to 10 years depending on attendance, attitude and ability. Longer if the student doesn't have the right attitude, doesn't come to class regularly, doesn't practice on their own or has difficulty with the concepts.
It's about the journey. A PeaceWalker's destination is always just ahead!
As one of my friends and mentors says,"It's (martial arts) is an infinite journey, so we are all the same distance from the finish line."
All the best,~Craig