Don’t fall for the seductive allure of early combative success when pursuing this martial art. Everything from guts to a healthy dose of chaos can lead you to success against the mediocre but you have to think long-term. If your goal is to be the most kick-butt sword wielder around you have to set your sights on besting the best, not simply beating up your friends; If you want to connect with the deeper tradition, modern sport application will only give you a sliver of the larger picture; If you want to become a greater person, this art has so much more beauty than simply seeing its teeth.
Challenge yourself to connect with the broadest application of the art possible. Put your ego aside and think about the art on a time scale of 20 years or 50 and imagine what you might learn and what might fuel you to stay with it for that length of time. Even if you don’t imagine you’ll practice for the rest of your life, if you had unlimited time to practice, how would you train today?