This post was inspired by an exchange with Sensei Richard Kimura and Sensei Takeshi Tamura.
One of the beauties of Budo as a spiritual path is that it both encourages the practitioner to strive, persevere, and push ourselves at times to the end of our abilities. In any spiritual discipline there is the danger that ones accomplishments may lead to arrogance and grandiosity. Injury, infirmity and losses suffered in training and in life can remind us of our frailty and weakness which can be an effective path to humility. We are reminded that many of our losses and even successes have come by good fortune, divine providence, and the efforts of others. Embracing or acknowledging our weakness does not mean that we coddle ourselves but that we see ourselves realistically and honestly. In acknowledging our weakness we are able to lessen or eliminate fear that is based in the desire to conceal the truth. I'm remined of Christs words "My strength is made perfect in weakness". Disciplined effort to embody a spiritual truth through physical training can get us to the top of the mountain. I believe it is the acknowledgment of our frailty that can take us even higher.