Here in the Southeastern United States, the leaves are changing to vibrant hues of yellow, orange, red, and brown- the final stage of glorious beauty before the leaves drop to the ground in preparation for winter. Along with millions of other people, I embrace the Autumn here in West Georgia; my wife and children all share the excitement of transforming our home into a showcase of colors, smells, and tastes of the season. The chrysanthemums in bright yellow, orange, and burgundy adorn the patio and the front lawn planters, while inside our home you can’t go into any room without smelling pumpkin, apples, or cinnamon; The festive bales of hay adorned with pumpkins, ornamental squash, and corn stalks remind us that the Autumn is time to celebrate the harvest- the reward for all the hard work and growth during the summer/growing season.
Then comes the revelation. As the leaves fall, the bare branches are revealed and remind us that growth has stopped until spring. IF we look carefully though, we will notice the signs of growth from the now-bare branches. The length and thickness have increased – if we have properly watered and nurtured the trees.
What does this have to do with martial arts? When we strip away our uniform and belt; when it’s just our bare talent thatis on display for the world to see – are we showing growth? Have we made improvements from last year (or last week). Underneath the traditional trappings of the dojo, under the uniform, rank, and titles – lies the truth. Either we are training and growing, or we have become stagnant.
If we continue to grow, that’s fantastic! We are reaching goals! If not, it isn’t the end of the world; make changes now.
While nature is preparing to sleep for the winter, take your training to the next level; continue to train and grow!