Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Sergeant-Major

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.

LawDog

11 comments:

tkdkerry said...

"An amateur practices until he gets it right. A professional practices until he can't get it wrong."

Damn. Gonna remember that one, LD.

Annie said...

Dogma.
+1.

Ambulance Driver said...

"This quote is good advice for anyone. For those of us who practice defensive arts, it should be dicta."

The same holds true for medical skills.

deadcenter said...

saw that quote, or maybe it went more like,

"An athlete practices until he gets it right. A Champion practices until he can't get it wrong."

It was on a tshirt for the local gymnastics studio and the girl wearing it looked to be about 10. Pretty cool when someone that young embraces an attitude like that.

dc

RobC said...

My CSM told us; "I train you this hard so the enemy will die and not you."
Later on I appreciated that training.

Digital Falcon said...

Quote stolen and added to the ever growing collection. Thank you.

karla (threadbndr) said...

DI c1976

"You duty is not to die for your country. Your duty is make the other guy die for HIS."

Simeron said...

Heh...I think that DI stole that quote for Gen. George S. Patton Jr. from his speech on June 5th, 1944, the day before D-DAy. They paraphrased it in the movie.

"I don't want you to die for your country. I want you to make the other poor dumb bast*** die for his country, dead men don't win wars."

The amateur quote however is a new one for me and is now firmly tucked away in both my "Book of Notable Quotes" and my brain.

Book is getting a bit tattared and torn but, I get a new one periodically of a large size..up to about 400 pages now.

One I really love is this one...

"It's easy to find a cause worth dying for but, can you find one worth living for?"

Anonymous said...

"One I really love is this one...

"It's easy to find a cause worth dying for but, can you find one worth living for?""

Somebody on THR.org has the other side of that for their sig line...

"A man who has nothing worth dying for has nothing to live for"

...or worded closely to that effect.

That said, the "cause worth living for" quote makes a lot of good sense too... reminds me of all the men who died for our Liberty and it's always been a shame they couldn't have lived to enjoy the Liberty they fought for.

mustanger98 on THR

triticale said...

James at Hell in a Handbasket posted some time back about realizing he had drawn his gun and shot the wild pig attacking him, all on reflex. I left a comment that you get out of trouble the same way you get to Carnagie Hall. Practice, man, practice.

troop76 said...

Its an old quote, one that Im sure CSM's around the world are found of using.

Another similar quote 'The more sweat on the training field, the less blood on the battlefield'