There were a lot of options but it made me think about it. Why do I do sword?
To me, it is personal betterment. Any form of self improvement comes down to that. It comes down to this: All my life I have been judged one way or another, all of us have it is a part of being in a cultural society. For a long time my personal value was tied to the things I had or did not have. It was all about what others thought of me, and if they thought badly, It must be something that I needed to fix or prove rather than something that was their perspective.
So what has changed for me?
6 months ago I did very poorly in my sword competition. My first match was great, the next 2 not so great and I ended up placing where I really had no intention coming in there to be. Things kind of snowballed, I had some bad exchanges in my second match, and got discouraged, now I was down, my third match should have been better but I let the cloud of the first loss run things and so, my third round was not as good as it should have been. This is not to say I had bad opponents, but mentally, because I was not doing well and I let that color how well I was doing. I beat myself in ways that my opponents could not. In light of that, I decided that I needed to work harder internally than I had before, Worry less about how many points I was down, and work more on each exchange, looking at them for feedback. Try something and it did not work? Try again, or do something else. That worked? Great, lets do something else. Have a plan in mind, and let my body execute it. Make the opponent fight the way I want them to, and do what I want. If it does not work, try something else, or try it again. You do not win a match in one large chunk, but by winning the most exchanges. or less with the most points scored.
What changed for me was the game.
I am now rounding 3 more training weeks until our local competition. In some ways, I am in much better shape physically than I was last time. I am running several times a week. I am eating better and watching what I am doing more often. I am in no way in peak condition, but I am getting better. I have been taking a Fencing class to spend some time working on the speed of my feet, and feel like in many ways it is helping, and overall I am working on speeding up my slow methodical way of fighting to pick up some faster, and better timed things.
All of that is recent. 6 months ago, I was winning all of my matches. Now it is hit and miss on how well I am doing, but I feel like somethings are going better and if I can focus those things, and drop the attachment to definite placing I feel that I may be able to do what I need to. For me the fight has to come from inside. I have to focus, even if it is after a few points scored against me.
A few months back, when I really dedicated myself to running and training multiple times a week. I realized something. Perfection is not a destination, it is not towards perfection that I must strive, but to do as well as I can, each moment, not being, attached to the outcome, but to my pest in each step of the path towards it. This is what my goal is, this is what I do it for. I will never be the best swordsman in the world. but as long as I am working on it and doing all I can to improve, then that will be enough. Anything short of it, is cheating myself. My instructor wants me to do well, my fellow students want me to do well, but unless I remain focused and dedicated to myself I am cheating myself out of my best.
Albert Einstein once said: "Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person."
For me, the reason to persist and continue to push my limits is to become better. It is in training that I learn my limits and sometimes, find out that the limits I have are more imagination than real. I find out just what I am made of, and sometimes I find out that where I thought all I was, was slow and awkward, was really just me limiting what my real potential was. I do HEMA to figure out what I can do, what I may not be able to yet, and sometimes I do it to surprise myself just how little space there is between the two.