There was once a martial arts student that had trained for many years and was preparing to test for her black belt. She was ready – she had trained hard on all her pushups and situps, she could jump rope, her kicks and punches were strong and she knew all her forms by heart. She was nervous but was confident that she would pass her test if she paid attention and worked hard.
As the big day arrived, she made sure that her uniform was clean and all her equipment was in her bag. As class time got closer, she got ready to leave but was running a bit late. She didn’t like being late to class so she was hurrying as she walked out of her house and to the karate school, which was just a few blocks away.
When she got near the school, she saw an old man carrying his groceries home from the local market. He had a big bag of fruits, vegetables and canned foods. Because the day was hot and the bag was heavy, the man was struggling. Unfortunately, he tripped on a crack in the sidewalk and all his groceries spilled out of the bag.
The martial arts student was walking up behind him as he fell and she thought “Oh, it is too bad that he dropped all of his food. Now he has to pick it all up and carry it home in the broken bag. Someone should help him but if I stop to help, I will be late for my test. I really want my black belt and don’t want to miss my test.” So she pretended that she didn’t notice him and she hurried on past.
As she walked into the karate school, her instructor was standing near the door and greeted her warmly. First, he asked about her day and if she was ready for her big test. When she nodded excitedly, he looked at her and then slowly looked at the old man across the street, still picking up his groceries. The instructor had seen the whole thing and knew that the student had been in too much of a hurry to help the old man and just walked past him.
In a flash, the student knew what the instructor was thinking and felt ashamed. She hung her head as her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. She said softly, almost too softly to hear, “Instructor, I am sorry but I cannot take my test today.” When he asked her why, she said “Because I need to go across the street to help that man and to apologize to him. That will make me late for my test.“
The instructor smiled at her and said “Go. You will be a great black belt one day, I know that now. There is always time to take the test another day but you will never get another chance to do the right thing today.“
As the student hurried off, the instructor smiled, knowing that when he was gone there would be another to take his place.