It there was a silver lining, this served as a reminder of how grateful I am for the wonderful situation here in Orlando. I have 2 schools with simply THE best students anyone could ask for. I have THE best teachers in Systema (David and Rick Merrell) anyone could ask for. Couple this with the support of the martial arts community here in Orlando and is there any wonder why gratitude is the word of the day.
There is also one more factor here. I had a friend named Paul who was an Olympic skater. During a conversation once, I asked him how he was able to win gold in the Olympics. What did it take?
His answer shocked me. I anticipated some exotic, demanding training schedule along with a perfect diet and military like discipline.
“We withstood the test of time. We just hung in there longer then anyone else did.”
Give me 101 guesses and that would not have been one of them.
That was 10 years ago and Paul’s answer has stuck with me ever since. I think that is the “secret” as it relates to a school or life for that matter, if there even is such a concept as a “secret.” Withstanding the test of time.
Over the years here, I have had the usual ups and downs. Places were hard to come by initially. Students in the beginning were even harder to come by. A “trusted friend” turned out not to be. People whom I thought were long term students, quit or moved away. Competition from others schools with other arts became more fierce. Toss in a dozen or more factors too.
“We withstood the test of time.
We just hung in there longer then anyone else did.”
At the end of the day, I knew it was my Dharma to teach, at least one of my purposes for being here on Planet Earth. It is a calling, one that I cannot ignore. It is easy to feel, but difficult to put into words. If you experience it, no words are needed. If not, no words will suffice.
So we stuck it out, not because we were “better” or more talented. Not by any means. It was because you simply cannot ignore a mission, a quest that burns in the heart and soul.
Thanks to the great students and my wife’s constant support, we did stick it out and over the past 2 years in particular, have been rewarded handsomely. Our schools, of which there are now 2, are flourishing. People are coming to class, participating and leaving tired and happy. Laughter fills the air as much as knifes dropping to the ground. We have created a community, a tightly knit circle of men and women who share a common passion – Systema.
Withstand the test of time. Stick with it, regardless. You never know what great things can come about if you do.