The following is taken from “Martial Arts Training in Japan” By David Jones….
“It is one of the ironies of the Way of the Warrior that the more difficulties that you have to overcome-the haraguing of the hungry ghosts (self-doubt), the weakness of the body, the lack of natural athletic ability, and inclination to fight-the luckier you are. All victories are judged relative to the quality of the opponent. All martial arts teachers have experienced the natural athlete who enters the dojo, displays beautiful physical technique in a short time, and then gradually fades away-while the awkward, untalented student who tries and refuses to give up attains honor. Remember that ranking in traditional budo, is by seniority and not necessarily by skill alone. The poor physical student who has struggled in the great battle for years is worth more than the student who can physically perform the the outer elements of his or her chosen art in a matter of months. All you have to do is survive over time to achieve honor and rank in traditional martial arts. My karate sensei commented on this by saying ” the father loves the ugly son best.”
“Another teacher explained the nature of practice and ranking in budo by likening it to the general reviewing his troops after a battle. The custom, even with modern heads of state, is to walk slowly before the troops and look at their faces. As battle follows battle, the general will recognise certain warriors whose face appears before him time after time. Are they necessarily the very best of his warriors? No. Nor are they the very worst. Martial Arts tends to select for tenacity. To succeed in a traditional dojo at those things which really matter is the simplest thing, and the hardest thing: keep coming! That’s the only real secret, whether you practice in Japan or at home.”