It is so important, especially now, to develop an inner focus to deal with the outer world. In the dojo we have many symbols to assist in the process starting with the sword of purification, the mirror of bravery and wisdom, and the crystal of enlightenment. The idea through the training is to develop an alignment and maintain a positive attitude. Only the gentle are ever really strong; if one really wants to live at all, we have to put our convictions into action. In all human affairs there are efforts and there are results - strength of effort will impact the strength of results. Clear out a corner of your mind so creativity and intuition come in. All your effort won't matter unless you are inspired; art does not have to be pretty, just meaningful. Price of effort in training is what you pay; value is what you get. Taking on the challenge of the grading once met adds meaning and value to one's self and life. The real man or woman smiles when facing trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection. Underlying budo, bushido, and the bubishi is the core concept of bravery especially when facing the truth about one's self. Life shrinks or expands according to one's courage and bravery. The way is in training. - Hanshi Platt