by Cesar Gracie
On more than a few occasions it has been asked of me what I look for the most in a student. In my early years of teaching I might have answered that strength, physical endurance, speed or agility were traits to be looked for when determining who would excel or become a future champion. However as the years passed, I realized that there was one trait that exceedingly surpassed the aforementioned ones: Perseverance.
Perseverance is not something you can easily identify or hastily confirm. Only the test of time will determine if someone possesses it and there are no shortcuts to attain it. There have been many who demonstrated incredible natural talent, leaving me impressed with a sense that for them, future great accomplishments were a certainty. However these "certainties" almost always went unrealized.
Then there are the students that seemingly never quit, to whom failure in training and loss in competition is merely a minor setback, to be learned from and not defeated by. Day after day they can be seen improving and applying themselves. Though their progress is not spectacular, it is constant. After some time has passed their skills become formidable and the reality of their accomplishment is undeniable. With average ability and common qualities they gradually cultivate their minds and bodies into a machine. A machine that delivers when called to do so.
Focus has been a word often referred to as what we need for success in any venture. And to an extent, focus is something we can all apply in varying degrees. However focus applied over years or throughout one's career is truly remarkable. The ability to keep focused and persevere through life's distractions separates the champions from the mediocre and the significant from the trivial.
Of course there are those that will take up a discipline for the sake of recreation or are motivated by secondary goals, such as physical conditioning or a variety of other reasons. For them not much should be demanded and less expected. If they achieve their own personal objectives, it is enough. However for those that aspire to the next level, they should first count the cost. Not doing so will merely be a waste of their time and of their instructor?s. We have all at one point or another imagined ourselves in an exalted position, the champion of our domain. The question is have we ever imagined the sacrifices?? Have we really thought about the endless training hours that are required of us? Have we even considered how much time and effort it will take for someone to help us in achieving our goals? To learn something that is worthy of your time cannot be done overnight and in challenging yourself to accomplish something great is gain within itself.
As a teacher of jiu-jitsu it is my job to see that everyone that trains under my guidance receives excellent instruction. But when I see that a student is committed to improving and willing to put in the time and effort to learn, I go that extra step to encourage them and I pay more attention to that student. If they can persevere then they are worthy of that. However, to request an instructor's lifetime of knowledge is no small thing and neither will be the sacrifice.