Perseverance is one of the “tenets”, or principles, that is encouraged while learning Martial Arts. It basically means that you don’t give up. You push through, even when it’s hard.
I genuinely don’t think I understood what perseverance meant, until I was faced with a truly difficult moment in my life. In 2012 I was involved in a roll over car accident. I was not only physically injured; I suffered from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) for years afterwards.
When the initial collision happened I knew it was bad. Then it became worse after my car spun out of control, was hit by another car, tumbled in the air and finally landed on its roof. A bystander stated it looked like something from a movie, with cars sparking and flipping all over the place. During the impact that flipped my car over I knew I would not walk away without any broken bones. I sustained two left fractured ribs, a herniated disk, and loss of rotation in my neck from whiplash.
At the time I had been working towards my black belt. I knew I would have to stop my Martial Arts classes, due to recovery from my injuries, especially after I developed sciatic nerve pain from my back injury. I was heartbroken because Martial Arts had become such a large part of my life with going to classes four times a week.
A few months later I decided to go visit my classmates and friends at Tae Kwon-do. As I sat there, watching a class I used to be in, I decided not to give up and that somehow I would persevere through it.
I started seeing a chiropractor three times a week, and I did everything he told me to do. I also I read up and watched every video I could on stretching exercises for sciatica. With what I learned in Tae Kwon-do, and my own research, I began a self-initiated stretching routine. I stretched every morning, afternoon, and evening. I did slowly regained back most mobility, and both my spine doctor and chiropractor were amazed at my healing rate.
After about eight months I finally returned to Martial Arts classes. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Not only was it physically difficult, due to lack in mobility and strength, in many ways it felt like I was starting over. There were new students and instructors to get used to, I had to relearn things, and I struggled with new fears I didn’t have before.
One of the largest challenges I faced was a new found fear of letting anyone near my healed fractured ribs. During partner exercises I felt myself flinching and ducking anytime someone punched or kicked remotely near my left side. I refused to give up though. Every class I pushed myself to persevere through it. I forced myself to keep going, no matter what.
All my hard work paid off. After worrying that I’d never be able to go back to Martial Arts, two years later I earned my black belt. It was one of the proudest moment of my life, simply because I knew I gave it my all and persevered through my fears and hardship.
Perseverance is a mindset that is not easy to have. There were many moments when I doubted myself or felt like giving up. If you are ever faced with a difficult moment and get knocked down, you just have to pick yourself up and push through it. It’s moments like those that teach you how strong you can be. And it’s in those moments that will make you most proud of yourself.