An Indomitable Spirit


During the 1996 Olympics, the world was allowed to witness many things – some wonderful and some horrible. Some of these showed us at our very best and some at our absolute worst.

But, at least one event within these Games gave us all a chance to witness what we in the martial arts consider one of the most important qualities a martial artist can possess. This quality is what we call an indomitable spirit.

When USA gymnast Kerri Strug took her first vault in the team event, she landed crooked, injuring her ankle. Now, most other people, sustaining the same injury, would have withdrawn from the event. But, because she believed her team’s victory depended upon her producing a higher score, she not only took her second vault but stuck the landing, the full force of which had to be sustained by her remaining good leg. Strug’s efforts were a clear demonstration of an indomitable spirit, a spirit that refused to be defeated by anything – whether another person or a set of conditions.

The martial arts were originally designed for use in combat. In combat, a martial artist can be challenged to his or her ultimate capabilities. In fact, whether he or she lives or dies can depend upon the strength of his or her spirit.

The word spirit can mean many things. But, relative to the martial arts, spirit is that part of us that determines whether or not we quit, keep going, or intensify our efforts during difficult periods. When your body is worn out, when your mind is faint and you feel woozy, it is your spirit alone that keeps you going, that in a serious fight may determine whether you live or die. An indomitable spirit is, obviously, a spirit that will settle for nothing less than complete success.

It is critical that martial artists strive to develop powerful spirits – and not just to enable them to become capable of saving their own lives in combat. They also need an indomitable spirit if they are to achieve the highest levels of success in life. Such a spirit can help carry us to victory in school, in other sports, in our relationships with other people, at work, and so on. In fact, the most successful men and women in the world probably achieved success because they possessed just such a spirit.

When asked if it was superior intelligence that allowed Nobel Prize winners to make the discoveries that earned them such a high award, most said no. They believed that there were many other scientists around who were much smarter than them. But, the one quality that they all felt allowed them to reach a point of greatness was their ability to always keep going, to never even consider quitting until they had achieved their goal.

How do you acquire an indomitable spirit? Well, some are born with it. Others have parents who instill it in them when they are young. But, for most, they have to acquire it through constant practice. You can do the same.

You can, for example, make yourself attend every class you possibly can. You can make yourself keep going when things get tough. You can make yourself eat what is best

for you, not what merely tastes best. But mostly, you can never allow yourself to quit until you have achieved success.

Only with an indomitable spirit can you become capable of ever achieving all of the greatness that lies within you.