While training in any martial art discipline, we want to improve our movements, techniques and knowledge while making sure we stay within the parameters of the art - all decent martial art systems stem from a body of history that makes it unique and long-lived. There is a why behind everything if the martial art we practice is one that is still around after many generations. If we continue to choose to move forward in an art, it is because we have chosen to believe in the process.

So what happens, then, when something occurs in your life that changes how you approach your training? We all go through changes that are short in duration, such as an injury or a temporary life setback, or long in duration, such as the process of aging, or a permanent injury or life change. One guarantee in martial arts and in life in general is that eventually, something will change everything. We are all prone to injury if we give 100%. We are all prone to aging - there is no escaping that fact. How do we maintain needed training to improve when life comes along and makes it difficult?

Now, padwans, I would like to impart this piece of glorious wisdom and truth - it depends on you and your goals.

I know. What a total let down, right?

We approach martial arts with the respect and reverence we should and assume that the art we've chosen is the one true only way with all the answers, at least many of us do. Those traditions with the history that have proven the test of time - they deserve that faith. This loyalty would imply that your art would have all the answers, a truth for everyone. It does, hopefully, and it doesn't. Each art is a path - a beautiful, difficult path. Fast and fluid, grounded and powerful, kicking, non kicking, protective, meditative, brutal, peaceable... loads of ways to gain control of your mind, body, and spirit, all with tradition and purpose. The martial art (or arts, as so many of us can attest to) we practice, we've chosen for a reason, and hopefully we've served it and it has served us well.

Life then comes along, and changes everything. So I ask - what are your goals? If it is just to keep moving forward, doing the best you can, cool! Ask your instructors for direction, do some research, get some advice from someone who is going through something similar. If you can't settle for less than what your abilities have been but see another art that allows you to move without limitations, take a chance and see what it is like. Moved to a new area and only have a few choices? Don't be afraid to give them a chance. Ask yourself questions like "What can my body safely do?" or "Will I be able to commit to the time and effort it takes to do it well?" rather than tell yourself you can't because it is different from what you have done in the past.

I'm a big believer in looking at pros and cons, and making logical choices based on facts and goals. As long as practicing your chosen martial art makes you healthier and better, moving forward is awesome. Loyalty and passion for what you do is important to the process - you need to give those things to be invested and grow. However, the journey is the most important part. We've all had that visiting student who came into our classes from another art, who spent the whole time saying "we don't do things that way." That is an opportunity lost, certainly. Don't be that student, if your situation makes it so that you are training under another system. All of your past training is not lost! It is a big part of who you are, and choosing to jump in with an eagerness to learn is not doing a disservice to your old discipline, but enhancing your own knowledge.

In short, change happens, whether we welcome it or not. Do you grieve the loss? Of course. Do you allow it to end your search for growth? Definitely not. Modify, do something different - keep moving forward.