In Japanese culture, a person is lauded more for their perseverance than if they actually achieve their goal. In Japanese, the word for perseverance is gaman (我慢). Gaman is more of a cultural idea than merely just a word.
To gaman means to not only persevere, but to have the utmost patience and self-control en route to accomplishing one’s goal no matter how long or arduous. The person who gamans knows that winning or succeeding is not an over night thing but a journey filled with ups and downs.
Having the ability to have unwavering patience while maintaining total self-control in the face of adversity is to have a will of iron or tesshin seki cho (鉄心石腸). People of lesser patience and even less self-control do not have the staying power to see their goals achieved.
A true martial artist is a person who keeps going despite the odds but that requires having an iron will. A will that sees things through until the end no matter what.
In most stories that we hear about, the goal being achieved is but a minor point. The bulk of the story is centered around the hero overcoming the insurmountable odds.
In every person’s life, sometimes daily, we are confronted with the opportunity to step up and show our true metal. That true metal is our will of iron.
Furuya Sensei’s last scroll he put it up explains tesshin seki cho perfectly. It said, “Stay strong, be humble and always keep going!”