Had I been more cynical, I might’ve taken this as cause to question the efficacy of my training. Instead I forced myself forward. I memorized the elaborate Japanese names, the mind-numbing kata routines, the call-and-response that ended each class, kneeling forward so that my nose brushed the floor. I did sparring drills in my padded foot-guards and headgear, pushing past the point of fatigue where lights exploded at the edges of my vision. I stayed late to punch a bag full of gravel in the hopes that my knuckles would one day be seasoned enough to endure it. I did so partially out of my own stubbornness, and partially because stubbornness seemed the essential tenant of the style. A hard form meets adversity with repetition, impassibility with blinkered persistence, and by this measure I considered that any deficiency I found was my own.