From the Sifus
You are not a martial artist
Push-ups are hard. (Yes, they are!)
"I’m never going to get this." (Absolutely true!)
"I’m never going to be a real martial artist." (You are not wrong!)
Except, you are. The problem is, if you believe you can’t accomplish something, you are correct. If you believe you can achieve something, you are also correct. The way you approach a challenge can either ensure your success or help bring about your failure.
Here’s the critical part, though: most of the time, the assumptions we use to determine if we can succeed at something have never been tested. Are you just assuming you can’t do something? Have you put in the work to truly see if that is true? Doubts are normal, but you need to move beyond them if you want to achieve anything in life, be it in martial arts or any other arena.
So, let’s take me as an example. Honestly, I am not who anyone pictures when someone mentions a martial artist. The image that comes to mind is not a short, deathly pale, skinny, gray-haired 50-year-old woman with three kids who lives in the suburbs. That is not the martial artist avatar.
But that’s me, your burpee-loving Sifu. If I listened to what the world said, I would not be doing any of this.
So what made the difference? I decided to let my actual limits determine what I could or couldn’t do. And as I pushed those limits, I started focusing on what I’d actually accomplished rather than what I hadn’t.
"Hey, I did ten extra push-ups." (Yes!)
"My squats were a little deeper today." (Progress!)
Or in your case: "Hey, I only wanted to curse out Sifu Lisa three times during the warm-up rather than five times." (Victory!)
So start focusing on your progress as you continue on the road to figuring out your limits. Test your expectations, prod them, and I’m willing to bet you’ll soon find you’re capable of much more than you ever realized.
See you in training!
If you've been on the mats for a while, it has probably already happened to you. The instructor has given out a drill, and you're going through the steps with your partner when it pops into your head: "But what if he/she does X, Y, or even Z? What do I do then?"
But do you ask the question? What if it's a stupid question? (It isn't.) What if the other students think it's stupid, or they already know the answer? (They might already know, but at one time they didn't.)
There really aren't stupid questions during your training. Okay, there was this one time with a TV reporter, but in fairness to him, he didn't realize he was answering his own question. And he wasn't even training.
For you guys, there really aren't bad questions. There might be bad times to ask, but not bad questions. We've seen that happen on occasion during seminars on the road, particularly when you are working with people who may have a fair amount of experience in their own art but very little in yours. Those situations are challenging because you often have only a short time to cover a specific piece of material, and you have to ask them to focus on that.
But if you have a question during a regular class, hold onto it until the class is ending, or possibly even catch the instructor afterward. It's possible they will tell you the answer to your question is further down the curriculum. It's possible they will take your question and use it to move the training forward in the next class. It's almost certain that if you had the question, someone else did too, and they also hesitated to bring it up.
Questions are not a bad thing. A good instructor will recognize that a question means you were engaged, interested, and thinking through your training because you are trying to improve.
Pick the right times, and then bring out your questions. At some point, sooner or possibly later, they will get answered.
Stay the course,
Anyone who shows up for JKD classes knows I love burpees. Celebratory burpees, punishment burpees, 'just for the hell of it' burpees. Burpees, burpees, burpees! But would you like to know a secret?
I used to hate burpees. HATE. They left me struggling to breathe, wondering why I was doing any of this, questioning like Donald Glover if I was just too old for this s&^%.
I'd struggle through, cursing whoever was leading class silently in my mind and praying for just a small natural disaster to end my hell.
And then one day, I went for a run. And you know what? I didn't struggle to breathe. I wasn't tired. My muscles didn't ache. It was... easy?
I hadn't run in years. I had three kids. Running wasn't supposed to be easy.
It didn't take long to see the connection. Burpees get you in shape. Burpees improve your cardio. Burpees improve your strength. Burpees improve your stamina. Burpees improve your flexibility.
Honestly, they do it all. So my hate for burpees began to shift to love. And that mindset shift of seeing the benefit of burpees made them easier to do.
And that understanding is what changed everything:
The struggle signals you're learning.
The struggle signals you're growing.
The struggle signals you're improving.
Embrace the challenges. They're making you stronger.
See you in training,
Why Am I Doing This?!
Your instructor just barked out, "Ten more push-ups!" That makes sixty. You're already tired. There's a mountain of laundry at home you still haven't gotten to. And so the question inevitably floats through your mind: Why am I doing this?
That's a fair question. Why are you doing this? Everybody comes to martial arts training for reasons of their own, and the reasons can vary a lot. Is it for physical fitness? Self-confidence? Learning how to defend yourself? Something completely different? Is your reason a good one?
Yes, it is.
But, you might say, I don't know your reason for starting. Doesn't matter. It was good enough for you. It was important to you. And it got you to start.
And I'll tell you something else: over time, your motivations for training could very well change. The new motivations will be just as valid as the old ones. They're your reasons. You might decide to share them with your teachers or your classmates, or you might not. As long as the reason lights a fire in you, that's all that's important.
But the truth is, you don't have to choose.
If you got involved for physical fitness, you'll probably learn some self-defense techniques along the way.
If you came for self-defense, learning some self-defense techniques will have a positive effect on your self-confidence.
If you just want to kick some ass, you'll make some friends and become part of a community along the way. And some of that anger that carried you in the door will start slipping away.
You're going to get these added benefits whether you planned to or not. You already did the hardest part. You walked through the door. Most people don't even take that step. You did. Now you just need to keep on walking the walk.
Stay the course,