My friend Peter and I were talking the other night, when he recited a quote to me. It was, as all good quotes are, as simple and elegant as it was profound.
Any quote that good has to have a story behind it, so I asked and Peter was good enough to e-mail it to me.
Here is the story in Peter's own words:
I'd just entered the South African armed forces and was doing basic training (which involved much blood, sweat and tears, all mine - the SADF was fighting a border war at the time and they didn't believe in soft training!). On the firing-range one day I was being my typical teenage dumbass self (I hadn't grown up yet, of course - some would say I still haven't!), and muttered a comment to the guy next to me, something about having practiced this stuff enough and when were we going to do something more interesting?
There came a tap on my shoulder. Looking around, I snapped to a brace. The Sergeant-Major of our training unit stood there in his polished, creased, mirror-bright glory, glaring at me. I was sure he was going to rip my head off my shoulders or have me running up and down serving as a moving target for the rest of the morning, but he just looked at me. In a slow, resigned voice (the kind they use to dumbass recruits), he said, "Troop, an amateur practices until he's got it right. A professional practices until he can't get it wrong!"
I've never forgotten those words. They've kept me alive on at least three occasions. Words to live by, indeed.
"An amateur practices until he gets it right. A professional practices until he can't get it wrong."
This quote is good advice for anyone. For those of us who practice defensive arts, it should be dicta.