Monday, July 28, 2008

Martial Arts’ Greatest Lesson

Success at home, work or on the mat is what drives all of us. Sooner or later, you’re going to want something more. It’s in our very nature to succeed. It is a primary survival instinct. The benefits of success are obvious. Sense of accomplishment, self worth and self-actualization are a few. Other, less obvious by-products are confidence and attitude.

While these feelings help to drive us and are our eventual goals and reasons to be successful, they do little in helping us become successful. They are psychological effects of accomplishment. The real technical growth, the real "nuts and bolts" lay in every setback and every failure.

Vince Lombardi said, "Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser" why correct in it’s spirit. There is far more to be gained from our losses than our triumphs. Every loss is a tool for improvement. Because it’s only when you fail, that you look inside yourself to determine what went wrong and how to correct it. With each failure you are forced to rally your courage and rise to the occasion.

After you win, you concentrate on the achievement of your goal rather than the mistakes you made. Your very nature allows you to enjoy the accomplishment and gain confidence and attitude. Which are extremely powerful tools, because BELIEVEING you can be successful is a lot more powerful than THINKNG you can be successful. But these don’t help you improve technically or spiritually.

Every loss, every injury, every defeat is an opportunity for growth. It’s easy to have fun when everything goes smoothly, but when does that ever happen? We think everyone has it easier than we do. This is obviously not the case. EVERYONE has the same issues that you do. It’s all relative to everyone: a hangnail seems like a big deal to someone who has never broken a finger. The difference is, some people deal with them and move forward, others rationalize their decision and go home.

Dealing with a setback forces you to be honest and critical with yourself. This isn’t an easy thing to do. But once you’ve abandoned the excuses and stopped pointing the finger, only then will you really grow and improve.

All natural ability aside, what separates the good from the not so good and the God-awful, is the ability to take a real long and hard look in the mirror and take stock. You will always hear excuses, we all have them. If you chose to stop at the excuse, you will remain there.; technically, mentally and physically. You will be forced to repeat the same failure over and over again. It’s a cycle of habit. Because if it’s not this, it will be something else and you will spend the rest of your life wondering "why they get all the brakes" or "why are they so lucky". Remember, "Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it". This habit of quitting when things get difficult is one you don’t want to develop.

Every career, every life, is replete with failure and setbacks. It’s up to you to work through them and force yourself to develop the habit of getting up again and again and again.

Everything that happens in the Dojo is symbolic of life. That’s way Dojo literally means "WAY PLACE". It’s the place to study THE WAY. Simply put, the way of everything, the way of life. When you miss a technique or have difficulty learning a skill, you train to improve and become competent at that skill. When you are injured you train yourself to work with your injury.

What’s the difference between an injured shoulder, a bad back or a broken hand than someone who is short, slow and slight of build? Should those people not even try? Maybe we should tell everyone under 5’5" and 120 pounds, "Don’t Bother".

Last week we concluded a five-week training course with a group of people with a wide variety of disabilities from slight learning problems to severe physical issues. All of these people, everyday learned to adapt and over come themselves and their environment. They developed the skill of overcoming obstacles. They came to the same conclusion that this is my life and like the man says, "Get busy living or get busy dying". This is the real reason you study bushido.

Skills are habits, habits, and both good and bad are learned behaviors. On the mat you learn how to overcome set backs and adversity. Listen, you will never be 100%. You will never be perfect. There will always be something wrong. It’s how you handle your setbacks and obstacles that make you who you are. Martial Arts are about overcoming adversity. It allows you to practice these habits in a "controlled" environment. It teaches you to develop these habits. These habits are imprinted on you and become a part of your behavior. These behaviors are what make the difference between a life lived and living a life.

The more and more I study; the more I realize what a genius Kano was. He developed Judo to articulate the real benefits of bushido. He developed a way to train life’s most important skills: appreciation and respect of one another, efficiency or best use of resources, and purpose.

Enjoy your setbacks, learn from them, because after you accomplish your goal, they are what you will remember and they will matter most

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