So today an adult student,who has trained with me for over a year, told me they were quitting. When I was younger my first reaction was always what had I done to cause this. Was it something I said? Was it something I didn't say? As I've gotten older and more experienced I've come to understand the saying "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink."
The fact is martial arts are hard. To progress you need to get over many obstacles in your way. Some are physical, like your stretching needs a lot of work or you can't get the hang of side kick or your coordination or memory is terrible, Some are mental, you don't have the drive to improve, you can't be bothered to put in the extra hard work, you are scared of looking like an idiot in front of other people.
The fact is for most people there comes a crossroads when you question whether you should continue to train because carrying on is so difficult. When my student came to me and told me they were quitting I said why? They said it was because they realised if they wanted to progress they would need to work even harder and they didn't have the time or effort and wanted to do other things. My reaction was what can be more important than looking after your health and physical and mental well being? After a good chat their minds weren't changed. I thanked them for telling me, wished them well and welcomed them back anytime.
As an Instructor I hate losing any students but I've come to realise that if they find it hard at blue belt level and aren't willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears that we have all done to get to black belt, then they are going to eventually leave anyway. Some instructors make the ride to black belt easy. To me this is a mistake. Firstly they massively undervalue their achievement and are more likely to leave. Secondly they haven't overcome adversity to get there and that is what makes good black belts. Martial arts allow people to shine in adverse times. It opens up a world of self discovery and more importantly self improvement that in today's world is rare and inspiring.
So Instructors, the next time someone informs you they are leaving because it's too hard, let them go and wish them well and say they are welcome back anytime, because it doesn't matter what you do to keep them, if they are not willing to change and improve and inspire to get better they will not make a good black belt anyway. Concentrate on the students that are on the floor and wanting to get better. The rest are welcome along for the ride but it's not a free ride in life and definitely isn't a free ride in martial arts.