A martial arts student had the opportunity to study with one of the great martial arts masters. He was so excited and went to the master’s school filled with high hopes and great expectations. After some time at the school, he became frustrated that his daily chores took up so much of his time. He felt that he was missing many opportunities to improve his martial arts skills. He spent his time between classes and after evening meals thinking over his feelings and sharing them with his fellow students.

One day, the great master asked his student to walk along a path with him to talk about their art. The student asked many questions and the master shared many insights filled with wisdom. The master could tell that the student seemed frustrated by something, so he asked what was bothering him.

The student replied, “Master, I have been with you for a long time now. I have studied your ways and I have worked hard, yet I have not reached my goal of being a black belt. I feel it is because I have missed many opportunities to work because of the other tasks that are required of me.” As the student spoke, he noticed that the master was counting slowly under his breath.

When he stopped speaking the master said the number forty-five out loud, and smiled at the student.

“Forty-five, what, master?” The student asked.

“Forty-five moments of opportunity you missed to work toward your goal while you were complaining about your work. Each and every moment you waste, is wasted by your choosing. Make every moment count toward your goal.”

The master began to walk down the path toward the school. The student did not hesitate for even a moment to follow him.

Melvin Grant is a contributing writer for Martial Arts Monthly magazine.


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