When people think of quitting something, they usually associate it with giving up. On the extremes side, people associate quitting with cowardice or abandoning something they should keep hammering at. That’s why we always see little quips like “winners never quitting” and such. And while I can agree that one should never quit something if it will compromise one’s goals, there are circumstances under which walking away from something is not only acceptable, but ideal.
When one decides to undertake something important in their life, it can become all-consuming. For example, if you decide to work on your fitness and get into shape, there’s a lot of perseverance and sacrifice that needs to happen. Quitting will prevent you from reaching your goals and it’s important to work through the obstacles and difficult aspects of that particular goal if you expect to achieve it. This can be the same with work goals, dietary goals and any achievement-based art, such as karate.
When I joined karate in the late 1980’s (Yes, I’m old as time. Moving on!) I did so with the intention and motivation to save my own life. Type-1 Diabetes was consuming me and I had complications that put me in very real danger of losing my life. My goal in joining the martial arts was two-fold: increase my overall health and learn to defend myself. I can admit that over the past 34 years, I have not only accomplished those goals but I’ve exceeded them in ways that I never would have expected.
What’s important with something like karate is that you CAN’T quit if you expect to progress and learn the art. But you should only be doing the art if it lights a fire inside you and you’re passionate about it. If that fire goes out and the passion dwindles, it becomes tedious and almost onerous to try and continue, and it can lead to being more of a hindrance to the overall art than contributing to it. It is at that point where one needs to take a serious look at oneself and consider that walking away may be the viable solution.
At some point in life, and I’m specifically referring to myself, one reaches an age and state of physical being that also no longer accommodates the stresses and rigours on the body required to actively participate in the martial arts. Granted, I never assumed I would reach that point in my 40’s but Diabetes is a hell of an inhibitor. Recent injuries and health matters have brought me full circle to where I understand that maybe fighting people half my age in the dojo is no longer a goal of mine. I’m still passionate about the martial arts but I fear the fire inside may have gone out.
At some point, this happens to all martial artists. Even Sensei, decades ago, had a point where he simply stopped coming to class. The dojo was managed by a couple of the senior belts in his absence. It was a scary time, since none of us knew if he’d come back. Eventually, he found his perspective and renewed sense of purpose and came back. In my early 20’s, I gave up and quit karate for several months as a result of my body no longer keeping up with the same speed as I had in my teens. I went back, of course. But if that was in my 20’s, can you imagine what my body feels like now?
I guess the point is that nothing in this life is ever truly over until one chooses it to be so. I may be walking away right now, but I will never truly QUIT karate. I can’t. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s in my blood and part of my DNA. This is proven by watching how my 3-year old throws a punch without ever having been taught. So, who knows? Maybe after a period of reflection and contemplation, I will see fit to return to the dojo and train with others. I’ve been walking this journey alone for so long now that maybe the dojo is no longer a suitable environment for me to train. Time will tell.
A person’s reasons are their own. If you feel the need to quit something, whether it’s that job you hate or a sport or hobby you no longer wish to participate in, be true to what you need for yourself. My karate training will continue. The arena in which I participate will simply be different. I’m not fading away, I’m simply walking away; potentially to start a new chapter. ☯️