Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Why does it take so long to get a Black Belt?
Funny thing about plumbing - half of your house is under constant pressure to leak, while the other half is the docile partner of gravity. Leak - what a plain and simple word that by its single-syllable phonetic seems to imply gently calming flows of relaxation and peace. Trust me when I say, I never had a pipe leak in my house - they always exploded, and not in the acceptable big boom, mushroom cloud, dust settles kind of a way. No, my pipes exploded and then kept right on exploding, sending laser controlled, skin piercing, eye stabbing, guided missiles of water spears towards freshly painted, newly drywalled, recently carpeted rooms. At night.
I became reasonably skilled at pipe hacking, and learned how to use a propane torch, the silly plumber's wax, and solder. My joint repairs usually held, and if they didn't, they tended to weaken quickly so I could fix them right away. At some point in the 23 year flip of the "house-of-while-you're-at-it," time became more valuable to me than money and I actually hired a plumber.
Plumber - I just like the sound of that word. 'Plum', silent 'b', 'rrrr.' The fact is, no one visiting that house could have cared a lick if I soldered the pipes myself, or if a highly trained, dedicated, focused on one speciality professional technician did it. So long as the water entered the appropriate receptacles in the manner, location, and intensity it should, and exited in an equally appropriate clockwise rotation within the confines of Newtonian mathematics - everybody's happy.
For me, the lesson was that time is more valuable than money. As a practitioner of a martial art I can attest that it is possible to buy a black belt; but having a black belt and being a black belt are two very different things. One takes only a little time and some money, the other (being a black belt) requires time. It just takes time to infuse reflexive reaction into the spontaneous muscle memory of the body - not just movements, but correct ones. Movements which are immediate, appropriate, powerful, pinpoint, and fast.
It takes time to train the mind and body to operate so seamlessly that thought and action are simultaneous. If you want to have a black belt, then join a school and dabble. Dabble like I did with plumbing; attend some classes, cram for your tests, and pay for your progressively darker belts. If you want to be a black belt, that will take time, time in the training hall going over the techniques again and again - with effort, sincerity, and patience.