The journey to another level will never be easy. Progress is always full of challenge. Creating success happens when challenges are worked through, around, over, or chipped away at until resolved. I am realizing this again as I proceed forward in my journey to 3rd Degree Black Belt. I have never been a “natural” talent. My success has come from repetitive practice. Every step forward for me has meant repeating over and over again each Kata. I sometimes have to repeat a single move over and over and over until I have it down. I will practice the same sparring combinations for hours on end. I still, after twenty-seven years in the Martial Arts, practice basics in repetition several times a week. The hours of practice are what I need to do to overcome my challenge of lacking a talent in easily picking up new material.
Now here I am again learning something new. I have never worked with nunchucks. I am now learning two nunchuck Katas. The weapon handling for this new weapon is the most difficult part of the new Katas for me. I have gone back, again, to my roots of repetitive practice. The goal is to have all the weapon handling needed for the two Katas down in two weeks, and perfected in one month. So far I am ahead of schedule for this goal.
The lesson I am once again being reminded of is: the Journey is full of hard work. I have never been able to easily learn new material. Most people who see me now do not suspect I have no natural talent. Mr. Rick Iannuzzo knows this. He has trained or watched my training for the past twenty-seven years. What I have done is create my talent. I created it by practice, practice, and more practice. Never giving up is another thing that has made my success a reality. I actually failed my first Black Belt test. I worked hard and made it on the second try. I also failed one attempt at 2nd Degree. I never gave up though. I picked up where I left off and made it, although my second attempt at 2nd Degree Black Belt took a few years since that is also the same time I left Lavallee’s to train with my friend Mr. Iannuzzo. Sticking to a goal is what gets you there.
Also since picking up formal training again in 2007 I have had to learn an entirely revamped system. While Mr. Iannuzzo has left much of his original material, he has also added many new things. Almost all of the “old” Lavallee’s Kyu rank Katas have been removed from the system and replaced by Mr. I’s original Universal Katas. Mr. I has kept the Kenpo two man form. These new Katas were created and developed by Mr. Rick Iannuzzo and his late brother Jeff. Even the beginner Katas are dynamic and fun to perform. One Kata left in the system is Ki Chung which came from Ernie Reyes Jr. & Sr. If you are now in the Lavallee’s system you might still see the Iannuzzo brothers’ influence. The three kick combos, the Kumite forms and much more reflect their influence and creativity. I still practice the “old” Katas side by side with what I call the “new generation” Katas. I have managed to remember the old Katas through repetition. The advantage of creating my own talent through practice is in the repetition. I have repeated these Katas so much over time I will probably never forget how to do them. I am now doing the same with the new generation Katas.The real story here is how a person, like me, with only a modicum of athletic talent has made it to beyond even Black Belt. If I can do this anyone can. That is why I encourage everyone to consider getting involved in a Martial Art. Striving to become your best will enrich your life. Once you realize you can reach Black Belt you begin to realize that nothing can stand in your way. Regardless of age or athletic talent anyone can reach Black Belt as long they are dedicated, motivated, and on a quest to be your best.
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