When dealing with learning in any field, you are first faced with the basic task of understanding what exactly it is and what it does. For example, you understand what an airplane is and what it does, without this understanding the parts that make up this great innovation are meaningless.
Sometimes students make the mistake of learning “how to do something” before understanding “how it works”, this results in a lack of understanding as to where things fit within the system. My suggestion is to spend time understanding the given skill as a whole before getting into the nitty gritty of how to perform specific sub-skills. An example might be learning to shoot three pointers before understanding the rules of basketball. While it is a fine skill, the practitioner fails to understand where it fits within the sport and may perhaps view basketball as a three point contest rather than understanding all the components that make it up.
By understanding how it works, it is much easier to pick apart the necessary fundamentals that must be learned before going about learning them rather than getting the cart before the horse. This will lead to much faster progress in any discipline as you will be left with a clear path of highest importance versus lowest importance as you begin your journey towards progress.
Earlier this week while taking a kettlebell course at Team Hargett taught by my brother Steve, I was reintroduced to the all too familiar feeling of blisters. The kind that your hands form, on the verge of tearing with each swing making it more plausible.
At first thought, it is irritating. Few look forward to the blisters that will be formed through hard work. Over time you will find that blisters, soon to be calluses are an indication of the path to reward. They are a source of pride for the many who have them.
Your body is not the only thing to grow callus but also your mind. What you must know, is that in order to gain expertise in any endeavor you must seek to callus yourself. That is the way of hardening yourself to reach a goal.
Unfortunately, many do not understand the simple concept and choose to avoid it mentally, physically and emotionally. By knowing that it is part of the process can we position ourselves to gain so much more out of our lives by recognizing the “calluses” we are building which are necessary in order to discover our best version of ourselves.
When you have lost the fear of change, the fear to start from scratch, you have found true power.
By clinging to what is, you lose sight of what can be. Sometimes losing everything is the birth of something new.
Embrace change, fear remaining the same. Life is a constant flow which demands constant motion, those who cannot swim will sink.
Every breath is a chance to take another step in the direction you so choose. Not everyone is so fortunate in this world, especially in nature.
Rather than being paralyzed by fear of starting over, let evolution take its course. You will find that no matter the odds, your best version may lie on the other side.
“That’s the craziest thing I’ve heard.” Words uttered in so many ways by the masses when:
Henry Ford proposed his the Ford T model
Thomas Edison went to work on his lightbulb
The Wright brothers sought to travel the skies
Steve Jobs had a vision of computers being human
Donald Trump ran for president in 2016
Galileo preached the earth was not the center of the universe
Einstein began his workings for E=mc2 (theory of relativity)
Alexander Bell went to work on the telephone
Louis Pasteur thought the air was made up of “particles”
If you have a vision that you are so passionate about, don’t allow close minded fools to tell you otherwise. The majority of people are generally scared, they want predictability and certainty. This makes it much easier to rule out an idea that goes outside of or against general knowledge. We know that creativity and innovation knows no bounds and cannot be confined by limitations. As seen by the great accomplishments of the aforementioned.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” The seemingly sound, age old advice is becoming lost by the incoming generations as we creep towards an era where everything is deemed hate speech. As kids we can recall the freedom of being called “dummy” giving USA the option to snap back with an equally well thought retort or burst into tears. Regardless such “conflict” served us by allowing us to learn how to take ridicule from others. This aligns perfectly with a stoic principle, “control what you can control” or “the only thing you control is yourself”. With the absence of such trials also comes the ability to seek inner strength and find that regardless of what anyone says, we are in fact in control of our emotions and our actions.
Try, try and try again. While it is important to take a step back when something isn’t working to come back with a new plan of attack it’s far too common to see people give up at the first sign of resistance. I’ll share with you a piece of advice in regards to mindset. When you set out to do anything, no matter how great or small, you should remove any possibility that you will not accomplish your goal. Like an arrow that never stops until it reaches its target, so too should be your actions until the job is done. Of course you will encounter and take on tasks that are too great for you to handle but it’s much better to go about your work as an unstoppable force. The characteristic of unwavering effort will serve you for the rest of your life.
Like the mesmerizing beauty who is shallow beneath her golden skin, the easy way is always there, always tempting, daring you to close your eyes and cast yourself into its depths. Bushido, the way of the warrior, states that “the true essence of bushido is to die”. Our struggles in life come down to fundamental choices, courage over fear, death over life, selfishness over selflessness. As human beings we are imperfect but we control our fate through the choices we make. Recognize that every moment the easy way is there and it is calling, pray you have the strength to resist it’s powerful urge.
Regardless of our individual differences as people, we all have gods we worship (money, fame, success, peace) along with an accompanying belief system we practice. Some call this religion, philosophy, others spirituality. Just as the propensity for nationalism when it comes to our country, so too with the dogma we choose. For how many years have the Catholics waged war with the Christians while claiming to worship the same god?
In the same regard, Martial Arts has also existed as long as we can remember going back as far as gladiator days and even before then. In addition the same age old old question has persisted “which form is better?”. My view is that there is not a clear answer, in a one on setting Wrestling or Jiu Jitsu wields an incredible advantage against a striking opponent (muay Thai, boxing, karate) while such grappling methods will likely encounter major limitations against multiple opponents, weapons, a scenario where you cannot go to the ground (narrow alleyway, irregular terrain).
While it is important to account for the differences in each style so you may choose that which meets your goals, some fail to take notice of the similarities that come with all Martial Arts just as religion. A grappler believes that if he or she takes you to the ground it will result in a victory as much as a Catholic believes prayer and confession will lead to the gates of heaven. Regardless of the art or faith itself, what remains beneath the surface of each are the principles that make up great men and women. In orthodox religion these might be referred to as “Faith, Hope, Love” while in traditional Martial Arts such values may be referred to as “Family, Discipline, Respect”.
Understand that Martial Arts like Religion is a practice. Rather than allowing yourself to be blinded by the dogmas of one belief system, open your mind to the methods and practices of others as human beings who both carry a love for the art and/or sport. As Martial Artists, our family and our dojo is our church and our bible is the principles and values we practice. What the man of faith and the Martial Artist are, are human beings on a journey towards their best version alongside a community of warriors who share similar views and passions.
If you also believe education is key and are working daily towards your best version, allow me to share my best reads of the year with you. I hope you do the same and return the favor. Wishing you all a fruitful and productive year to come, despite the obstacles ahead! Much love and thank you for your support, every single follow means the world! Here the reads that came to mind:
Relentless by Tim Grover
Mindset by Carole Dweck
Peak by Anders Ericsson
Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Loserthink by Scott Adams
Unfu*k yourself by Gary Bishop
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
The E-Myth by Michael Gerber
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown
Future Crimes by Marc Goodman
Hard Times Create Strong Men (RIP Stefan Aarnio, actually 2019 but fuck it)
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
If 2020 has taught us something, it’s that life is constantly changing and full of unexpected changes. Don’t let a year go by for you to change something about yourself.
Every day is an opportunity to grow and get better. If that is your mindset, nothing else matters, you will always see progress from the person you were.
The only person you should compare with is your old self. Happy new year!