Practice with the Spirit of a Child

The other afternoon, while we are in the neighborhood, I took my 2 1/2 year old son to visit the dojo and burn some energy off. I didn’t think it would be that exciting for him until I tried to explain the place to him in terms he’d understand.

“This is a special school where we learn to roll on the ground, and, uh, push each other over, and hit things with sticks.”

Sounds pretty good to a toddler, when you put it like that. He spent the next half hour alternately squirming around on the mats, trying to knock me over from where I was sitting, and running in circles while hitting the floor with a rattan stick.

I’m not sure what this says about grown-ups doing martial arts, but at least I can bond over our shared enjoyment of whacking things with sticks.

Awake

It’s been a long three years since we’ve been posting to the blog regularly.    In that time, I’ve started two new jobs, had my first son (with another now on the way), and shattered the navicular bone in my foot after being hit by a car.

I took a full two years off from martial arts after the accident. This was partly because of pain and slow healing, and partly because I was busy enough that I didn’t find the motivation to push through the pain. I’ve finally started practicing once a week this Winter, and it has felt good. Whether through injury, introspection, or age, I’ve become much softer and my techniques have changed.

In the meantime, Glen has been teaching well and the dojo has remained a good community. While the blog has been frozen out, one of our students, Grover has been maintaining a Facebook Group. I know that Gary has still been writing in the meantime, and I’ll start getting some more of his content up in the next while.

A Uniform for the Low Ranking Spearman

As readers stumble upon this blog or the school website, we get all sorts of feedback: some we receive directly and some we find as chatter on message boards, some is thoughtful, some is nasty.

On several occasions now, people have asked and speculated about a photo of myself on our website where I am wearing a green kimono and a tare.

Normally I hate pictures of myself. Maybe one out of five hundred pictures taken of me won’t get torn up, or–in this day of digital–erased. With such a small selection of photos of me to choose from, I picked this one. One day I’m sure it will be replaced when I find one I like better.

This photo happened to be taken on a day when I was teaching my students how to use the yari (spear). This outfit of a kimono, no hakama (pleated trousers), and a tare–basically a padded apron–from a set of kendo armor, might seem unusual to most practitioners of the Japanese martial arts.

Yet, this was the normal “uniform” that I wore when I trained in Sojutsu (spear arts) with my teacher (minus the t-shirt seen underneath, which my teacher would never have allowed, but I now wear to protect the kimono from my sweat–it’s very hard to find a kimono that fits me).

It might surprise some of you young guys, but finding a hakama in the 70’s and 80’s wasn’t that easy. However, kimonos were easy to find, and a vintage kimono was a lot cheaper than a hakama. As a result, we wore kimonos most of the time, especially at the beach where we didn’t want to get our hakamas (those that we could find) dirty or damaged due to the sand and water.

As for the tare, well that’s simple: it protects the hips, upper thighs, and groin. Since sojutsu training includes a great deal of thrusting practice from the hip, it is not unusual to get hit in these spots when doing two man drills/forms, especially if one’s timing is just a little off, or a deflection doesn’t go were it is suppose to

While the tare doesn’t offer great protection, it’s better than nothing at all. It’s also easier to find and far more affordable that buying a do-maru, which would be the most appropriate equipment to practice in. A do-maru is a type of Japanese medieval armor that first appeared in Japan during the 11th century; it was commonly worn by lower ranking foot soldiers.

I think a lot of the confusion related to my picture would have been eliminated if I had also been wearing the do (chest guard) that normally goes with the tare. However, when I was training with my teacher, finding Kendo armor was even harder than finding a hakama. When one could come across them, they were very expensive–especially for a teenager with limited funds. Lets face it, they’re even expensive today.

Since lack of funds was always an issue, my teacher and I rarely could afford to buy martial arts equipment. We had to improvise. This meant we rarely, if ever, owned a do to wear, and we never had a men (helmet). We didn’t even have kote (gloves)–which, by the way, are terrible for spear practice (at least the ones designed for Kendo are.)

Do Men Kote

The fact of the matter is, that when I was training with my teacher, we normally made our own tare. We made them out of stiff cardboard and foam that was covered in assorted scrap fabrics. They didn’t look pretty, but they were functional, and if they ripped we didn’t care. In addition, the “plates” were a lot longer then most tare, and covered both the front and back of the person wearing it.

In many instances, our tare were more comparable to kusazuri, though some versions were clearly related to haidate.

Now please forgive my ignorance when it comes to Japanese armor, but I believe the difference between a kusazuri and haidate are that the kusazuri version is a skirt of plates attached to a leather belt which is laced to the bottom of the do, while the haidate version are a series of plates intended to specifically protect the thighs.

Another difference is that haidate do not protect the rear side of the person wearing them, and from what I’ve read were often not worn by samurai because they were uncomfortable, had limited mobility, and slowed them down.


Kusazuri with do


Haidate

As for the do, we did try to make them, but cardboard doesn’t work well, and really gives a false sense of security. After much trial and error, my teacher came to the conclusion that it was a waste of time. He felt that it was more important to really learn to deflect or evade attacks to the body, than rely on such protection. And yes, it hurts a lot when a thrust strike hits your body.

Of course, we tried other things. One substitute we tried was using chest guards designed for baseball catchers. But they presented other problems. For example, when they got wet they became very heavy and uncomfortable. They would also smell and rot due to the moisture. Basically, they were just not a good solution.

We also made our own sune-ate (shin guards), which were either worn over are bare legs, or covered the bottom of our hakamas when we elected to wear them. The beaches in San Francisco where we trained can get extremely cold and a hakama helps keep you warm or at least reduce the wind-chill factor–at least a little.

As I said already, I’m no armor expert; but from all the pictures and illustrations I’ve seen of Ashigaru (conscripted foot soldiers) they are normally depicted wearing little more than a do with kusazuri, and some type of simple helmet such as a jingasa (war hat).

My teacher considered himself as a spearman, and had ancestors who were once low ranking samurai, possibly ashigaru (a fact he never fully confirmed or denied). I believe that he wished to equip himself in that fashion while practicing spear techniques, but elected to wear only the tare since he didn’t own a do or a do-maru.

Whether this was a family tradition, or was simply because my teacher couldn’t afford the proper equipment I can’t say. Though if I had to guess, it was probably due to his financial situation.

In either case, following the example set by my teacher, we now wear the tare when practicing Sojutsu, which explains the photo. One day, if I can find affordable, sturdy, American-sized do-maru, that tradition will most likely change.

I’m not stating that wearing the tare alone is traditional when it comes to Sojutsu styles, or that any other school dress in such a manner. It just works for us.

Picture from “Ashigaru 1467-1649” by Stephen Turnbull and Howard Gerrard

The New Guy Speaks

Well, this is my first contribution to Yachigusa-Ryu’s blog. I was asked to talk a bit about my impressions of my first tameshigiri class – what I expected, what happened, my thoughts on the accident, etc.

Yachigusa Ryu is my first step into the martial arts. At the time of this writing, I have had exactly one month of training. I joined for two reasons: first, to find out what martial arts is really about. It’s been “Hollywooded” to death, but what is it really all about? The second reason is that I wanted to develop mental discipline, and if there’s anything I’ve heard, it’s that the study of any martial arts teaches discipline. Okay, I have to confess, there is a third reason, and that is I just love the samurai sword… I’m a shameless geek, and my love of swords is part of it, but I’ve always felt the samurai sword stood head and shoulders above all others in terms of beauty, function, and mythology.

So by the time we break out the straw mats at my first tameshigiri class, I’m like a kid on Christmas morning. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Paul Chen sword, which I was going to use at this class. I really did have my doubts about whether it would actually cut, because the blade really didn’t seem too sharp to me, but then what do I know? Sensei assures me it’s fine, and sure enough that straw mat was cut straight through, no effort at all. Wow, this thing is real! In another time and place, that could’ve been someone’s wrist or neck I just severed.


At this point, the evening continues to go by well. I got some good solid cuts and I had some embarrassing misses. I’m the new guy, after all! Then the next student goes up to cut. He cuts the mat, no problem. Then he looks down. He says he just cut himself. He did????? Where’s the blood? I didn’t even see anything! But Sensei sits him down, grabs the first aid kit, presses gauze against his foot, and sure enough the red shows through. Then the student starts to grunt in pain. Sensei has to wrap the student’s foot together tight as a mummy to be sure that the wound doesn’t open wider. (Sword cuts are supposed to get bigger if you keep moving…yes, somebody thought about this…pretty morbid, huh?). Thankfully, the student is able to get himself to the hospital.

Looking back, it happened so fast. No one saw it coming, and no one saw it when it happened! The blade moved so fast, and cut so efficiently, the student didn’t even feel any initial pain.

The next week, I took a look at the stitches on his toe. Now my impression when the accident happened was that he only cut the top of his foot maybe an inch. Imagine my surprise when I see stitches starting at the tip of his toe, and going back at least three inches!! Good Lord, I think to myself. That sword is deadly!

As fascinated as I am with the katana, this incident reminded me, loud and clear, that it is a weapon, the loaded gun of its day. Its every inch is engineered so that it could carry out its single purpose: to kill. The sword wasn’t a toy or a show piece; people died on the end of these blades.

This incident, along with what I’ve learned in kenjutsu thus far, has shown me very clearly how fragile life can be. We deal with weapons that can pierce flesh so well, the victim is sometimes not aware he is being cut until it’s too late. We’re learning to go for the femoral artery when attacking the leg, or how to slash at the throat when attacking high. How easy it is for life to be lost! Life is all we have. If it is lost, nothing else matters. To see how something so important can be so fragile speaks volumes on how precious it really is.

Yachigusa Ryu is not about learning how to beat someone up. It’s not that shallow. This discipline was developed during a lawless time in human history, and as history has shown, adversity breeds greatness. The Yachigusa family developed this style of fighting not because they wanted to kill, but because they wanted to live. These people developed their art against the backdrop that any minute, they could die. So it’s only natural that everything to do, teach and believe would be saturated with that impetus to live life as well as possible. The result is an art that was rooted in everything that makes a human great: discipline, patience, strength, courage, honor, self control and even compassion. Perhaps the greatest paradox in what we do is that by learning to fight and kill, we learn to become better people so that we don’t have to fight and kill.

I hope I’ve only taken the first few steps of what will be a lifetime of learning. There is no greater way to live then to improve oneself constantly. I now say a prayer every once in awhile in thanksgiving that I live in a time and place where I can learn the martial arts to become a better person, and will never have to use it in anger.

-Piya Wannachaiwong

Dojo Injuries

Every now and then, conversations at the school arise regarding injuries people have witnessed while training in the martial arts. Sometimes these conversation revolve around the various injuries we personally have suffered while training, but more often than not we talk about injuries that have happened to friends and training partners.

Of course, like many conversations, these discussions often slowly but surely turn into a game of “one-upmanship” as each person wants to top the last person’s story or personal suffering.

Sometimes the stories are so bizarre that it’s hard to believe them, and people stare at each other in disbelief. Other times they are so funny that we forget someone really suffered.

In either case, these stories and the injuries they describe are a reminder that really bad things can happen, and that they can happen in an instant. One second of inattention or dropping one’s guard can lead to permanent scars, loss of limbs, or a reduction in one’s overall quality of life.

No matter whether the injuries are short term or permanent, these stories are clearly “Cautionary Tales.” Tales people should not take so lightly, and should learn from.

* * *

Case in point: Several weeks ago I told a story, which I have to admit is very hard to believe. To be honest, if I hadn’t seen it myself I would have to question whether it was true or not. However, I was there, and witnessed every second of it.

To this day, I’m still not sure how it happened, but I will never forget it, nor will I forget my emotions at the moment when it occurred. Shocked, sickened, and definitely in a state of panic worrying about the ramifications. I wish it had all been just a dream. However, bad things do happen, and to this day this event is always in the back of mind reminding me to be careful.

Many years ago, I had several friends I would practice with. We were a group of martial artists that worked together to figure out why our teachers made us do certain things in class, and how we could use what we knew more efficiently and effectively. It was sort of a study group where we analyzed movements within forms, and tried to make sense of all the various aspects of the martial arts we studied.

Each one of us had a different martial art background, as well our individual reasons why we trained. The one thing that united us was our desire to learn techniques that had real world effectiveness, and a desire to seek out knowledge we felt we were not getting form our respective teachers. Actually, we were pretty progressive for the early 80’s, and what we were doing was something we definitely had to keep hidden from our personal instructors.

Well one day while working on some iai-jutsu (sword draws) and drills, a friend of one of my friends decided to show us some new forms he had learned while visiting Japan. Of course, we were all excited to see them.

The first forms were executed with grace and precision. The guy actually looked like he knew what he was doing.

Then all of a sudden, disaster!

Sure, that last draw was excellent as was the cut to his imaginary opponent. Then came the chiburi (flipping blood off the sword after cutting an opponent), which at first appeared to be as good as the draw. In fact we were all ready to congratulate the guy on a job well done, and to ask him to teach us what he just done.

That, of course, was the calm before the storm.

Now, as he tells the story, everything was going fine, he had just completed the chiburi, and was getting ready for noto (putting the sword back in the scabbard). For some unknown reason he looked down at the ground and saw some red liquid spots on the floor.

Puzzled by what he saw, and sure these spots hadn’t been on the floor a few seconds earlier, he started to look around for their source.

As he looked more closely at the floor, he saw several flesh colored objects lying on the ground in front of him. Objects he definitely knew hadn’t been there moments before.

On closer inspection he discovered to his horror that they were severed toes.

Then it hit him they just weren’t just toes, they were his severed toes.

Yes, during his chiburi he had sliced off three of his toes.

It was a clean cut, and so fast and smooth he didn’t even feel it.

Of course, once he processed what had happened, and now that he was now minus a few toes, he fell to the floor in agonizing pain.

Now, you can imagine the shock and disbelief that overwhelmed the rest of us. I mean, you see things happen like this in the movies, but not in real life. I felt like this really couldn’t have happened.

Of course, as dumbfounded as we were, we had to quickly gain our composure. Our friend’s life was now in jeopardy.

It took a combined effort to clam him down enough to wrap his foot, gather and ice his toes, and rush him to the emergency room, but we did it. I’m not sure how. I’m also sure we broke every traffic law in the process, but within minutes he was at the hospital.

Now I’m sure you can imagine the looks we got, when we told the staff at the hospital what had happened. Sword injuries are not very common in the 20th century, and once again anyone who wasn’t there would have his or her doubts as to what actually occurred. In this case, because of our ages and the nature of the injury, the police were even called and his injury was investigated just to make sure we were not lying.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending, and his toes were reattached. It took him months to recover, and he lost a lot of sensation. But except for some major scarring, one would never know what had happened.

Now, I share this tale with no intention of grossing people out. I, for one, actually think it illustrates how quickly things can go wrong. I tell this tale to show people how important it is to always focus on what they are doing, especially when it comes to working with lethal weaponry.

Sure, people kind of laugh when they hear this story, but we’re normally not laughing at the guy. We’re laughing about the morbidity of what happened, realizing that if we make a stupid mistake the same thing or worse can happen to us. It’s an uneasy type of laughter we share to hide our repulsion to the fact that these things happen.

* * *

By now you may be wondering what prompted me to share such a tale with the world. Well if you will remember I said these stories should act as cautionary tales. They should teach us to be careful and always pay attention to what we are doing.

When I told this story less than a week ago I never imagined I would have to relive it. However, on Friday Nov. 17th 2006 I did. Well, sort of.

On Friday the 17th we were having a tameshigiri class (cutting rolled reed mats). It had been months since our last one, and everyone was eager to try it, especially those who had never done it before.

Of course it also had to be one of those nights where I had a guest and also one where we had an uncommon amount of onlookers from the street. Both of these are fairly unusual events for my school.

The night started off normal enough, with each person taking their turn with mixed results.

The goal of the tameshigiri class was to have fun, while gaining some insight into the proper way to cut with the katana. It’s a chance to witness the lethality of the swords we use, which normally builds a healthy respect between practitioners and their blades.

Sometimes I think people doubt just how dangerous these swords are. As one person mentioned, he didn’t think his new sword really looked like it was sharp. Of course it was and it cut through the tatami mats with ease.

Like I said the class started off like normal. However, that was about to change. In an instant the whole mood and tone changed.

Now I could describe what went wrong step-by-step, and just how many mistakes my poor student made. How he didn’t follow instructions, or the lackadaisical way he approached his task.

I could air my frustration about what happened, but I won’t since I feel genuinely sorry for the guy. I have no intention to admonish him publicly. Let’s just say that he has done martial arts long enough to know the risks; he knows what he did wrong, and he is ultimately the one who will suffer until things heal.

The good news is my student didn’t sever any toes completely off. In fact, only one toe was injured, though I have to say that toe was sliced right to the bone from tip to base.

Now, expressions can be worth a thousand words, and his face at the moment when this happened was priceless. It was clearly a combination of bewilderment, and anger towards himself for doing what ultimately can only be categorized as stupidity.

At first what he did didn’t hit me. And even when he verbally validated what I thought had happened, I was hoping, should I say praying, he was kidding. Unfortunately he wasn’t. He had in fact cut himself. In many ways it was almost like my story coming back to haunt me.

To say that everyone was shocked would be an understatement. It took a while after he left for the hospital for everyone to regain their composure and start cutting again. Needless to say, everyone was a lot more careful for the rest of the night, and it will be something no one present will ever forget.

Now I know one day this story will be shared with others. Those that hear it will wonder if it’s really true or not. There will uneasy laughter, as the realization that these things are possible registers within each individual psyche.

All I can hope is that by sharing such stories I stop at least a few people from injuring themselves. If that means I make people stop and think about what they are doing, or the manner in which they do things, than all the suffering I have witnessed, the injuries I have suffered personally have some meaning.

I’ve always been told to “learn from the mistakes of others.” And to be honest, that phrase has a tremendous amount of validity to it.

[C.f. earlier postings on accidents and live swords:
Respecting Live Swords by Spencer on 2006-04-19
Live Blades by Gary on 2006-05-05
Live Blades A Follow Up by Gary on 2006-05-10
References for Live Blades – A Follow Up by Spencer on 2006-05-10]

Frank 1.5

For a few years I’ve struggled to develop a realistic striking dummy for both sword and spear. I have wanted a striking dummy that could take full force strikes, thrusts, and slashes, and hold up to the abuse various forms of impact can cause.

I’ve played around with several designs, but many were too bulky, and couldn’t withstand much abuse. Or they were not sturdy enough to take blows, and when struck simply fell over and/or apart. In either case none of these designs were very practical.

In addition I wanted my dummy to be average height, (about 5foot 9 inches tall) with various targets one could attack. Basically, I wanted a dummy that was as versatile as possible, but which wasn’t extremely heavy and didn’t take up to much space in the school.

A few weeks ago I finally built such a dummy, I’ve nicknamed “Frank 1.5.”


Click for full size

Click for full size

Basically Frank 1.5 is made of old used tires, and recycled lumber, however though made of scrap materials he is designed to take almost every imaginable attack one could think of, from the tip of his head, to his legs, (sorry, but I couldn’t figure out how to make feet).

So far since his construction we have tried are best to break Frank 1.5, or at least pinpoint his weaknesses. While we managed to break one white oak bokken, a 26 inch police baton, and a jo while striking Frank 1.5, he has shown no signs of damage or even wear and tear.

I realize that Frank 1.5 might hot be the most handsome dummy ever built, but he is 100% functional and that what counts. I should also note that while I like to build things out of wood, I am in no way shape or form a carpenter. If something can’t be built with a screwdriver, hammer, and handsaw it doesn’t get built. So given my limited abilities and shortage of proper tools I’m very happy with the way Frank 1.5 turned out.


Click for full size

Click for full size

Another nice element of Frank 1.5 is that he is designed so one can also practice thrusting, both with a wooden spear or a real one—though I imagine Frank 1.5 will most likely need to have his face replaced if we use a sharp sword to often.


Click for full Size

Like I said Frank 1.5 is still is still under evaluation, but so far he seems to working out just fine.

Total Cost – $ 0.00 (All materials were scrap and donated.)
Total time – Approximately 25 hours most of which was used to cut and drill holes in the tires.

Attendance

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

–William Arthur Ward

One of the most frustrating aspects of teaching is student attendance. Or maybe I should say lack of attendance.

I run a very small school. In the last two years, I think the average student population has been six. This means that when students don’t show up for class on a regular basis it’s pretty obvious.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that all of my students are adults and that as adults they have busy lives. On any given day I can quickly think of a 100 reasons why one could miss class. I also fully understand that most of the people I end up teaching are overly educated, are over achievers, and/or have careers that consume a lot of their time (by necessity or choice).

I also know that some commute long distances: I have one student in particular who has to drive one and a half hours each way in order to train with me. In his case, I understand why I don’t see him as often as others, nor do I expect him to come more often than he does. I myself can’t think of too many instructors that I would travel that far to train with either.

However, whether my students’ reasons for not attending class are valid or not, I would love to discover someway of motivating my students to make more of an effort to attend class on a regular basis. I mean, it’s in their best interest to come as often as possible, since they wont make any progress if they don’t.

Clearly, what I teach is not easy to learn and often requires meticulous attention to detail. I realize that students often leave class feeling frustrated, or feel as if they haven’t learned anything. Although they may show some grasp of the material, (at least at a conceptual level), I know they feel that trying to perform certain techniques to my level of expectation (or even their level) is overwhelming.

I also have realized I’m not the type of instructor who highly praises my students, though I will correct their mistakes to death. It’s not that I don’t respect their efforts, or accomplishments; from experience I’ve learned that praising students to often sometimes has the reverse effect. Instead of trying harder they think they have accomplished something and don’t try as hard to improve anymore.

Truly there is nothing worse than watching a student who thinks that he or she knows something when they really don’t. I see that at seminars all the time.

While I try to be balanced and offer as much encouragement as I can, the truth is that the only way a student will learn anything is by practicing. Repetition, repetition, and more repetition is the only way to learn. It’s a long tedious road with no short cuts. It is the true “master” that learns to overcome the feeling of tedium, and strive for perfection.

This of course leads back to attending class on a regular basis.

While it is true that one can practice on their own, practicing by one’s self never can and never will replace attending class. In fact bad habits, wrong movements, and forgetting pieces are much more likely to occur when practicing alone since there is no one there to correct mistakes as they are made and repeated.

I’ve said this a thousand times to hundreds of people: learn things right the first time, since unlearning things is 100 times harder. That’s just how the mind works.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that no matter what I say, or how often I try to motivate my students to come on a regular basis it just doesn’t work. They either come or they don’t. I, for one, don’t understand this mentality, since that’s not how I am, and when I commit to something, or set a goal, I give it my all.

Unlike many schools that call students or send motivational postcards to encourage people to come to class, I refuse to do these practices. I figure it’s up to the individual to want to do this. They decided to join the school, they pay me monthly with their hard earned money. If they came to class because they felt forced or pressured I know they wouldn’t learn much since they would not be fully focused. I for one would eventually feel resentful and quit if I felt pressured to do something.

Though I always initially ask for a commitment of two classes a week from every new student, and do threaten that I drop students who don’t attend that often, I rarely enforce this policy. Maybe I should, but the only real result would be even a smaller student population.

That of course wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing since every student I’ve had past and present knows that in my heart I would rather teach two or three really serious students than a roomful of hobbyists.

To be perfectly honest, I would rather have people quit my school than sporadically attend class. There have been several times when I forced a student to make a decision about whether they would remain at my school or not.

I know dealing with the issue of poor attendance is not unique to my school, and by now it shouldn’t bother me as much as it does. Its just part of dealing with the various people and personalities one meets in this line of business.

However, one day I hope to find a way to learn to inspire my students such that they look forward to coming to class so that this would no longer be an issue.

Until that time all I can tell my students is what their attendance means to me.

I forget who said it, but there is a quote that basically says one cannot be a teacher without students. I know for me that when I have a big class, I teach better and I’m more motivated. I am motivated to share more, and be the best teacher I can be.

I enjoy the energy a roomful of students brings to a class and the exchange of information each person contributes. That’s what made me ultimately decided to become a teacher in the first place.

Sure being in charge, “being the center of attention,” helps with my self-esteem. But I truly enjoy teaching. I like watching students improve, seeing the expressions on their faces when they finally comprehend what I’m asking them to do, and sharing in their achievement when they finally accomplish a goal. That’s truly exhilarating.

I also enjoy the camaraderie I form with my students, and what I learn from each of them. There is no doubt that several students, both past and present, have influenced/impacted my teaching style and/or personal life.

These are my reasons why I look forward to my students attending class on a regular basis, however I also want them there because it’s in their best interest. I sincerely want people to learn what I’m teaching.

One of my favorite quotes states;
“This one step – choosing a goal and sticking to it – changes everything.”
Scott Reed

I would like my students (current and prospective) to think about this, and encourage them to remember why they joined my school in the first place, and the goals they set for themselves.