Determined Skill

The other evening I went to a small martial arts training hall.  I sat at the table as an instructor and watched a group of students demonstrate their recently learned skills.

My job, with another instructor, was to score that skill set.   And decide if the students testing should move on to the next level.  To learn more.

There was one child.  About ten.  Female.  She joined this class quite some time ago.  And to be honest, her ability to execute the techniques is not stellar.  Not even ‘good’ sometimes.   But I kept watching her.  All through the test.

I watched her trying something that is not exactly easy for her.  Her skill level is not great.  But it’s better than it was three months ago.  And better than it was six months ago.  And better than it was twelve months ago.  I need to not forget the skill she walked in the door with a few years ago.

Her skills are better.

Her skills are going to get better yet.

She made mistakes in the test.  She lost her way a time or two.  But she never, not once, made an excuse.  Or gave up.  Or stopped.  She went on.

When she was placed with a higher skilled student she responded and tried to match her skills to that student.

When she wasn’t sure of what to do she kept going.

When she couldn’t “do” what she needed to “do” she did not give up.

Her beautiful little face was set.  Her eyes watched us when we showed her.  Her ears listened when we told her.   Her hands and feet tried over and over again to do what was needed to do.

She’s only ten.  She hasn’t fully realized her mental or physical abilities yet.  Right now she is still “doing” martial arts.  She hasn’t yet acquired the understanding of what she is fully capable of doing.

What she does have, at such a young age, is determination.  She just keeps doing.  Trying.  Listening.  Watching.

She does not think she ‘can’t’.   She does not know that giving up is an option.  She doesn’t think with “doubt”.

She just does.

There are some things we cannot teach or give one another.

Her determination is part of the foundation of her capacity, her capability.  I didn’t give it to her.  I can’t teach it to her.  It’s hers.

All, completely, powerfully hers.

38 thoughts on “Determined Skill

    • I’m with you Marissa. She has come a long way in something that is not natural to her. I can relate to that. And I’m glad to see her determination….that alone is better than any skill I could teach her or grade her on.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As adults, we know determination yields growth. She is learning this, even if she is unaware. 🙂 From your keen observations, Colleen, I suspect she will continue to do so.

    Each of us is blessed with personal gifts. What we do with them speaks volumes. We can (and ought to ) learn from young ones.


    • I hope to pay attention to this Eric. I think she might be able to understand feedback on this. The encouragement to keep going, keep trying, persevere. She responded well to what was being said. But even when the adults were quiet, she just kept doing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I admire and want to hug that little ten-year-old. Most of the kids I know don’t have that kind of determination. This girl is made of something special and will accomplish great things even if by sheer willpower. sometimes I think stick-to-it-ness is more important than perfect delivery.
    Another interesting topic to think about.


  3. Sometimes the skills fall into place last, and when they do, holy cow, watch out! What a great reminder that in our society, the can’t-do-it-today, forget-about-it-tomorrow mentality is ridiculous when you’re talking about young people who’ve get to grow into themselves physically and intellectually. But your 10-year-old there has already established her foundation of spirit. Congratulations to the martial arts school for watering that beautiful seed.


    • I’m very pleased with the instructor. He wants to help mold the students in martial arts skills and people skills. I mean, the better we get along, the less martial arts we need. 😉 And I suspect, like you, that she is learning now that today’s lessons will go with tomorrows, and add up to a wonderful life. 🙂


  4. Damn, isn’t that the truth! I’ve had students like that. Love this story, Colleen!

    SO—–I’ve been gone a long time. I know, but It’s Ecuador. And we just got our internet TWO days ago! LONGGGGGGGG story!

    Thanks for your patience!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


  5. Cant help but think she must have had some fine parents who may have modeled some tenacity for her. I”ll bet, like you, her parents were watching from the side-lines. They were most likely also very grateful knowing that someone like you was also watching / coaching / supporting. I think not only can we learn from her – but we can learn from her sources of influence.


    • Her mom made a comment to me after as she walked by me. I could only grin and agree. She asked if I could believe it was the same little girl….. I think you’re right. The parents modeled, or encouraged, what I saw in that child.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t take credit for the teaching any more Robin. 🙂 That has passed on to another instructor who is fantastic with his class. The amazing thing I learned about ‘teaching’ was that it wasn’t always the teacher doing the teaching. Like this little one did for me. 🙂


  6. So true how determination helps so much…thinking with doubt, I think that may be something we grow into and out of with any luck. Reminds me of Mr. Lee, the only failure is not trying. Sounds like she is on a good path. 🙂


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