Adapt and Persevere!
In order for a warrior to not only survive, but ultimately win on the battlefield, he/she requires many diverse special attributes and resources. The obvious necessary items would be weapons, food, water, materials, training, motivation, etc. However, I truly believe that none of the mentioned resources are more important than the capability to adapt and recommence when faced with formidable obstacles and challenges.
Knowing the relevant actual situation of the battlefield is essential as the opposing forces always try to impose their rhythms (time) and their positions (space) against your will and determination. Therefore, the battlefield is a continuously changing environment from every aspect, which means the faster you adapt, the better the odds of surviving and hopefully winning.
The process of a correct adaptation determines the success of the mission, but without the fortitude to push onward one cannot prevail. Being adaptable, scalable, and flexible is not enough if you’re not able to go on with the activities that embodies your core-mission.
Our approach to real and normal life is not far from what I have just explained. We’re Hwarang! We are warriors! So, it is not surprising that our way to live has many points in common with living and surviving in a battlefield. You cannot even imagine how many times I had to adapt and restart in my Hwa Rang Do path. I made many mistakes, I misunderstood many points and I’m still trying to improve, partially aware of my countless limitations (I’m sure there are some limitations of mine that I cannot see), always encouraged and supported by my patient Grand Masters Kuk Sa Nim Taejoon Lee and Do Joo Nim Joo Bang Lee.
Moreover, my body has been changing in the last 20 years and it does not matter how good you are, making mistakes or receiving injuries are inevitable and the frequency increases as one gets older unless you change your method of practice in unison with your aging body otherwise you cannot continue. I have listened to many people saying: “I’m getting older, I cannot practice anymore!” And, I understand and sympathize with their point very well, I know how hard it is, but nevertheless that idea is just another excuse to quit. The real problem is our ego, which leads us to have unrealistic expectations, thinking that we can do the same things in our older years as in our youth. We need to let go of our ego and not live in the past, but fulfill our convictions as our Dojoonim always says, “Warriors do not retire, they die.”
What is the best way to adapt and persevere? Honestly, I don’t have a golden rule for that and as I have said the only thing I know for sure is that it is not easy, but what in life worth pursuing is ever easy? I always followed Kuksanim Taejoon Lee’s suggestions which are fundamentally based on three concepts: will, purpose, and spirit. First of all, you have to make sure you want it; second, you need to have clear in your mind why you want it and how badly; third, you should clearly seek for the spiritual path as only a truly challenging, extremely difficult experience can offer. In all that, the will is trainable, purpose is something that you can elaborate and think in depth, but to me understanding the spiritual path is a God’s gift. Abandoning yourself, with patience and humility, to God’s will is a key-point to me to overcome suffering, to embrace changes, and to recommit to our convictions. This is not a passive action, on the contrary, it is a very active posture that requires energy and focus but mainly the awareness of being just a part of something bigger than you, useful but not indispensable, just a means.
Recently I had a very bad COVID attack and feeling almost the impossibility to breath I got scared. It was impossible to avoid thinking about my mortality, the end. As soon as these negative thoughts
entered my mind, a voice from my spiritual core deep inside told me: “you’re a warrior, a Hwarang, so be ready to fight, and no matter what happens never worry as you’re in God’s loving hands.” After that I began breathing very, very slowly, in the same way I do during deep meditations, and despite the immense effort that I took to continue breathing, despite the fear of death, I became calm. It was when I freed myself from self-centeredness, reaffirmed who I was as a Hwarang, and surrendered to God that I gained the inner solitude to embrace death and focus on living that gave me the strength to overcome, the true power of serenity.
I’m still recovering from that attack and have many difficulties with my body, so practicing martial techniques is very difficult for me now, but that means nothing to me. I have experienced so many situations in the past where I really had to restart my training from zero I am used to it and I’m doing that again now. I thank God for this new opportunity, and I thank Him for humbling me again, even if I’m not able to perform a single HRD form without getting tired or feeling pain I’m sure that I’m walking on a great spiritual path. I’m sure I will get in shape again very soon and I will do it with joy, enthusiasm, and gratitude.
P.S.: After I have submitted this article, I was contacted by Kuksanim to test for my 5th Dan. It is an incredible opportunity, one I have been waiting all of my life, but the first thought that flashed across my mind for a brief moment was, “Why now, why does it have to be when my body is in so much pain, why couldn’t it have been when I was healthy?” But then, I remembered that I was on a spiritual path and the timing was perfect! The providence of God is truly amazing, and I am here to accept whatever He wills to the best of my ability until my last breath. Thank you, Lord!
Hwarang forever and God Bless!