Overcomming Limitations

by Eric Wilson

(Note:  This is a slightly condensed version of an article that 
appeared in the March/April 1990 newsletter for the Korean Martial Arts Center)

In the nearly three years I've been taking Hapkido, I have gained physical
and mental skills I never thought possible.  While I have no illusions of
achieving immortal fame through martial arts, I can point tot he the
progress I've made so far, and establish goals to work towards in the

Like many others, I was not born with the skills one would normally
associate with a martial artist.  I've never considered myself to be
an athlete of any type, so why at the age of 33 (senior citizen by most
athlete's standards), with chronic asthma, lifetime back problems, mild
dyslexia and one leg shorter than the other (not exactly what I wanted
to have in common with Bruce Lee), did I decide to try Hapkido?

A major reason was to find a means of dealing with an increasingly
stressful situation in my life.  So out of curiosity I sat in on a class
at the Embarcadero YMCA and was relieved to find many preconceived notions
about martial arts work outs were not true.  The instructor did not beat
anyone with a stick in case of a mistake.  No one was carried out on a
stretched with broken bones.  While it did look strenuous, I felt I
wouldn't collapse in the midst of class.  The instructor spent some time
afterwards answering my questions and putting more fears to rest.  What
I felt were daunting physical limitations could be overcome.  All it took
was desire and hard work.

It would be nice to say that once I started I raced through the ranks and
discovered that a great martial artist had been inside all the time, just
waiting for a chance to break free.  Nothing could be further from the
truth.  I struggled with off-balance kicks, bungled forms, forgotten
punch and blocks, and hopeless hand techniques.  Everything was so alien
that I had to make major adjustments physically and especially mentally.
Many times I came close to quitting, but was always talked out of it by
an ever patient KMAC instructor.

Finally, things started falling together.  My coordination and balance
improved.  I began to enjoy going to class and became depressed if anything
prevented me from attending.  While I have accepted that it may take me
longer to learn a new technique or refine an old one, at the least the
word cannot no longer comes to mind.

I feel I have come a long way in martial arts, and am confident that
there is much more I will achieve.  I have overcome some physical
limitations and have learned to minimize the effects of others.  While
I still have no illusions of becoming the next Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris,
what I have received and will continue to receive is worth everything
I have gone through.

There is no easy answer to be a martial artist.  All must be prepared to
sacrifice time and tremendous energy.  Even though you may feel your
progress is agonizingly slow at times, stop and think how much martial
arts is a part of your life.  Then think of what it would be like if you
had never studied.  Think of what you would never have overcome.  How
much more stress you would be under and of the friends you never would
have met.  Then you will understand it is all worthwhile.

Comments? Please email me at ewilson