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Rubber Band Man

The rank of 4th degree black belt takes close to two decades of continuous training to achieve. Within in that time frame, there are periods of progress, stagnation, and even decline in energy level and skill. A rubber band by itself already has a certain shape. You can, however, stretch it out with some effort. Furthermore, with extra pull, it stretches out exceedingly, and with less pull it shrinks back closer to its original shape. That is where the similarity lies between the journey towards attaining 4th degree black belt and a rubber band. It is not uncommon for a student to train with high intensity and dedication in the months leading up to their black belt tests, not just 4th degree.

Following that though, they like to relax back to how their training was. Although understandable, there is a lot of momentum lost. If a student continues with that same type of vigor they had leading up to their black belt degree tests even when they initially get their new rank, it is likely they will rise to experience new heights of awareness and skill. In contrast, when that same student takes a break, a lot of times when they return, they have to work hard just to get back to the same spot they were before. And although they have attained some new skills, skills they already had are not any better and there is no greater level of internal change. The point is do not let up, otherwise it is a game of back and forth. If you stretch the rubber band a certain amount, it expands, but if you let up, it naturally retracts back. Your attitude must be sincere, but not necessarily serious. And the more effort you put, the more joyful the Martial Arts quest can be. Why struggle when you don’t have to? If the end goal is to have the rubber band snap, then you have to keep pulling. The end goal of training is also to snap, so to speak, out of egoic bondage and dissolve into the original state of Pure Consciousness which loves unconditionally and is utterly free. Don’t take a break until the break happens to you.

– Speech by Grand master Yoo, Written and edited by Shin Min Hyun Sa