The concept of WǔDé (武德) – Martial Morality, where our actions and our thoughts combine to define us as a truly great martial arts practitioner can be put to the test in the five “Thoughts”: Courage, Patience, Endurance, Perseverance and Will. It can be said that the concepts of Endurance, Patience, Perseverance and Will are almost identical yet they all have subtle differences. When we consider the four, Patience is the ability to accept hardship, Endurance is the ability to take hardship, Perseverance is the ability to continue on despite hardship and Will is the ability to focus despite hardship. We’ve considered all the implications of patience, so now we will look at “Endurance”.
Endurance (恒 – Héng)
When we think of Endurance we think of “keep on keeping on”. We think of being able to withstand any hardship for any period of time while remaining strong and robust. But in thinking of Endurance in those terms we are usually drawn to consider it as a physical trait only, and in so doing, our focus turns to people of immense physical capacity. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that WǔDé Endurance is a “Thought” not an “Action”. Therefore, one’s ability to endure is a mental one rather than a physical one.
If we are to “Endure” not only in the Martial Arts but in life generally, we need to accept that things aren’t always easy. We don’t get everything handed to us on a silver platter. We must undergo some form of “hardship” to “win the prize” keeping at the forefront that “hardship” is more a “state of mind” than a “state of physicality”. For the vast majority of us, we aren’t going without food or shelter to follow our passion.... and we certainly aren’t enduring untold pain and suffering at the hands of our masters as we may have in China in the past (or even today if we want to achieve International stardom).
So, how much can we “endure” while still deriving pleasure and satisfaction in our learning. Why are we meant to “endure” in the martial arts? Isn’t it supposed to be fun? Well, yes. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that what we learn in the martial arts transcends the arts themselves. We should be learning about life and how better to approach it. So, when thinking of endurance, we should be thinking of it as a life skill learned. The ability to experience a difficulty or hardship and not avoid it can not only reap huge rewards but an immense amount of personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. Just remember that the great things in this world have endured the test of time and so can you.
“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.” Buddha