Thursday, January 3, 2008

Finish

Last week I was training by myself with the bo (6 foot staff). As I went through the kata my sloppy techniques were painfully obvious; the end of the bo wobbled around everywhere, there was no precision. I began to force myself to focus on the tip of the bo, making it strike and stop precisely where I wanted it to each time. The improvement was immediate and dramatic.

Sensei always told me to finish each technique before you go on to the next one. My tendency (and the tendency of every other student), is to start thinking about the next technique before finishing the current one. The result is a general sloppy imprecision; the bo magnifies this because it extends further out from the body. These unfinished techniques will never have the power that they could have had. It’s like not following through in baseball or golf. Really good, experienced martial artists are precise and quick without rushing. Each technique is beautiful and powerful. It is in part because they finish their techniques. I have apparently not mastered this.

"Finish well" is good advice for all of life. Finishing something well not only gives you a good feeling of accomplishment and confidence, but also frees your mind, your energy, and your time to do the next thing that must be done. Rarely are you commended for starting something, it is finishing well that has value. A punch, no matter how well it starts, has no value if it does not connect with power. The finish, whether good or bad, will stick in people’s minds.

Acts 20:22-24 – …However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace."

II Timothy 4:6-8 – For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Proverbs 5:11-14 – At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, "How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly."

I have a life to live on this earth; it is a fight, a race, a journey. I have no idea how long it will last; whenever it ends will I have finished well? Will I have persevered to the very end? Will God say, "Well done" or will I groan at my own ruin? Will I leave projects unfinished, prayers unsaid, apologies or love unexpressed, good deeds never done? Oh God, I pray not!

Rebecca A Givens, 12/2007
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