"When you meet your antagonist, do everything in a mild and agreeable manner. Let your courage be as keen, but at the same time as polished, as your sword."
- Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Irish dramatist & politician (1751 - 1816)
Great quote, and great advice for all martial artists. To many people that are somewhat new to martial arts, this quote might seem as if it says to be "nice" to your opponent,...to stand there and take the abuse, be it verbal or physical, and to not retort in harsh words or violent physical defense.
However, I see this quote a bit differently. "Mild and agreeable manner" doesn't necessarily describe "how" you do something....rather, I feel it means that your mind-set must be "mild", and "agreeable". That is, without panicked reactions and without actions that go overboard and uncontrolled. This type of mind-set is a product of many years of study, practice, and dedicated tenacity.....this is where a martial artist can be considered as "mature".
I'm a firm believer in that just as much as we should keep a good sword well maintained, we too, should keep ourselves well maintened as martial artists. If we use a sword constantly but do not take care of it, what happens? The blade may rust, it may go dull, its fittings may get grimy and all value of the sword will decrease to un-usability, no matter how much it is worth or what famous Smith forged the sword.
"Let your courage be as keen, but at the same time as polished, as your sword." ......as my Taijiquan Sifu once said...."practice well and the benefits are yours". Keep up on your maintenence....practice, practice....practice some more. Train. Read. Strive for improvement. Keep your "edge" keen, which in turn will keep your courage keen.