We all started our training by doing the first step.
We entered the Dojo for the first time.
We entered the mat for the first time.
We learned the first step of the first breakfall. The first step to learn the first throw …
Our curiosity was great and our willingness to go further and further was endless.
And like this we put one foot in front of the other and without even noticing we
set out on a journey that would change our entire life.
We didn’t set out on this journey alone.
There was the training group, our friends, the teachers …
We had yet no knowledge nor skill. We were beginners.
We were guided by the older and more experienced ones.
They gave us directions.
And so we set off not knowing where this path would lead us.
We got older and were still on our way.
Meanwhile we thought to know the objective.
This journey, which we had so joyfully started and which lead us on rough paths over
hill and dale would in the end lead us to the objective which seemed so desireable.
So wonderful that we glorified it.
We would obtain the black belt.
As a reward for all our efforts.
We were sure of that.
And then, we also knew that, we’d have reached our objective.
So we marched on.
The path got harder, more rampant and narrow.
Gradually a few of our comrades left us. They turned around or they got tired and couldn’t
continue. They found along the path places where they wanted to stay. And sometimes we
asked ourselves if it wouldn’t be easier, more convinient, more rewarding to join them. And
sometimes it bitterly hurt to leave them behind and to go on.
But something in us made us continue.
There was this endless curiosity that couldn’t be satisfied …
What would it feel like reaching the objective?
When would we reach it?
What would that feel like?
And the closer we got to the big target, the more pressing got the question, what would be
once we reach it.
One day, almost unexpectedly, it was time.
We had arrived.
A small bunch of stalwarts.
So many had left with us and so few arrived now …
But we … we had made it.
We were so proud of ourselves …!
Until we realised that we had just finished a small, almost tiny part of our way.
Basically we had just done the first step.
This was a shocking revelation.
We just wanted to finish, to reach the objective, to rest after all our troubles …
But now we ought and had to move on.
Move on, and again over hill and dale, through valleys and over mountains barely cresting.
It was exasperating.
Would it never come to an end?
We moved on and on. One step after another. Sometimes it was easy. But sometimes it
was so hard that we just wanted to turn around. Sometimes we went astray. Got lost
and baulky went on the wrong track because we thought we had found a shortcut.
Not all of us returned to our path.
We moved on, got older and more experienced and more than once we thought to actually
know the way.
We argued with the ones that went ahead of us and now returned to take us with them.
At times we thought to know better than them …
Still today I admire the patience our teachers had with us.
We moved on because they encouraged us to.
On our way we met people that were a role model to us. Which we admired.
But we also met those who wanted to dictate to us where we had to go. Who told us we
could and should continue our way only with their permission.
It was probably our teachers who kept us from believing these imposters …
And so we moved on and on.
And again many fell behind. Tired and unwilling.
A few, however, continued.
Sometimes we looked back and recalled particular rocky, steep and toilsome paths aswell
as some aberration …
Sometimes even one of our teachers would stay behind. He had accompanied us to a point
he couldn’t exceed … and from there on we had to move on by ourselves.
Back then I finally began to understand that our journey in the martialarts has no end.
It’s the journey itself that matters.
It’s the overcoming to do one step after another over and over again that reveals certain
knowledge to us we wouldn’t have achieved otherwise.
It’s the way that matters.
It’s him who makes us who we are.
He lets us endure hardship, lets us hang on, he molds us, as we walk him.
We have decided to take this trip when we started back then.
We don’t know where this will lead us.
But we know that we’ll be traveling throughout our lives. We can’t and won’t stop.
Our curiosity is simply too great …
We move on.
And while we move on we’ll do one step after another, again and again.
Just like we did it as beginners when we did our first steps …
(Translated by Fabian Ludwig)