In my line of work, there’s a lot of tough guys (and ladies). As people advance, there’s an expectation that we mature in our skill, but more so in the humility that controls it. As we’ve been promoting people in various classes the last few weeks, I’m reminded that toughness is not so much about being able to “deal it out.” I watch so many people cause pain, drama, injury, and attack on others, simply because it makes them feel powerful.
The definition of toughness for me is in the people that can withstand attack, either physically or mentally and keep coming back; they remain vigilant and unstoppable regardless of other people’s ignorance and malice.
These are the resilient people I choose to align with and support…these are the tough ones…
I sat in a large auditorium nearly 30 years ago for the first day of orientation for my doctor life. One of the first things I remember hearing was a statement that set the pace for the rest of my life…so far. As I teach students, treat patients, and watch the world in general, the truth has never been so apparent.
Complacency, stagnation, and lethargy is the world’s pandemic that I study. It’s causing early death, less than good life, and in my opinion, culture’s demise. I commonly ask people how their day, week, or weekend was; typically, I hear boring, deflated answers…”nothing much” is what I commonly hear when I ask what someone is up to.
Here’s what I getting at…the last 30 years for me have gone by in a blink; I ponder mortality more and more and realize my personal clock is ticking. ⏰. Sitting in stagnation, gaining weight, watching the world spin, and waiting to check out is not something you will hear me speak of or do. Movement is crucial, healthy practices are paramount, and focus on positive pursuits is critical.
Many of the people I admire are a bit older than me, but still killing it, because they realize the secret. Constant motion is the key, both in mind and in body. You lose them with disuse…you all know this.
Now, get busy living!!
The quote I mentioned earlier is….
“Motion is life…”
Please take this seriously 🙏🏻
Tic, tock 🕰️
I consider (very much lately) the concept of grace. It has many facets that keep circulating in my mind, so therefore I release them when I scribble my thoughts.
Grace for me is about poise, calmness, and understanding. I attempt daily to be patient in thinking before acting, planning before executing, breathing before reacting. It’s often said that once an action is made, it’s nearly impossible to retrieve, so I strongly try to guard what I say, what I do, and what I “ put out there” in general.
I think it comes from my martial arts back ground, where one has to be in constant control, but another angle is that of grace in movement, posture, and action. One should be light in their motions, delicate in their execution, and smooth in their actions. It causes a calmer mind, a healthier body, and presumably a longer life.
The purpose of this writing today is more focused on the grace we have for others. We forget constantly that the universe is not centered around us, but that we are a minuscule piece of it. We need to consider that everyone is challenged with their own pain, their own damage, and Hefty baggage. This is what grace really means to me….to have empathy for the people around us and patience with their “things.”
The inherent issue is that some will never have the grace for themselves or others, so we need to be vigilant and maintain a sense of protection from those sorts. This is where I personally reflect back to the martial arts and prepare for the event where my grace doesn’t matter.
Proverbially, I think it’s ok to be a “bull in a china shop…” as long as said bull is not smashing through and destroying the said shop…be a gentle bull in case it is needed. It’s often said that we need to walk a mile in another’s shoes…I suppose this is what I’m getting at…just remember though, sometimes, you have to be the bull…
I had a bit of a flashback this week as we trained sparring concepts at the dojo….
I started training very young and most of the other students in the class were adults. There was guy I’ll call “Lex” who was very intimidating and honestly a bit of a bully. As I grew up, got stronger and more skilled, his aggression increased; I always knew I would sustain an injury or an insult whenever I had to partner with Lex…I dreaded it.
A few reflections I can share….
It shaped the rest of my life for better or worse. Being “anti Lex” became the basis of my teaching over the next decades, and I am grateful for that. It’s a challenge to train students to be warriors with realism and still maintain safety with the least amount of injury, but it’s the job I accept. I will never just go through the motions.
As I think about this, it doesn’t just pertain to a martial arts school. It’s our personal and work relationships, families, friends, and even strangers. Treating others with respect and grace is utmost in my opinion. I wish more people to agree and live by this.
Simply put, just be better; be great; to more awesome….
We would all have a better world
Sadly, Lex passed away recently…I ran into him years ago, and he outwardly apologized for his younger actions….It was nice to hear, but many years and damage had already gone by…Let’s not waste our depleting time…
The three masks
A recent conversation with a friend stirred a thought…
As middle schoolers (and beyond), most people are conditioned to adopt different personalities dependent on the surrounding circumstances. My friend stated he juggled three masks…the “jock”, the “party guy”, and the “Christian”… As one would assume, although he felt he had to act certain ways, feelings of hypocrisy often resulted. This created much stress and detachment resulting in depression and loneliness. This feeling also caused subsequent alcohol use In the early years to “medicate” the feelings.
Fortunately, he has turned out to be a great person, parent, and friend, but what if he hadn’t? Abuse of substances, loss of life quality, unfulfilled life goals, or potential suicide in many cases could have occurred.
As I reflect back to my younger days, I don’t recall wearing any sort of masks, but maybe an “invisibility cloak” to avoid much of the drama that surrounds those informative years. It pains me that anybody can not be themselves for fear of fitting in or being accepted. The result so many times is tragic. As I grew older, I came to realize that other’s drama and negative opinions would not distract me from my best life…I worry too many people never come to this conclusion as they watch life pass.
I suppose my remedy is to teach kids that masks are not needed; that individuality Is the accepted choice; and that acceptance of others for genuine reasons is mandated. Often times, I am dealing with adult students who never grew past the brokenness of their early years and are just starting as adults.
My suggestion is the following:
1. Choose your relationships very wisely..align with “winners” and live well.
2. Disregard negative, toxic, and “bully” like people.
3. Educate yourself in every way possible to own who you are and be great.
4. Balance your health mentally, spiritually, and physically and throw away the masks you have accumulated.
Disclaimer: I am personally always working on all of this myself….
I’m here if you need
As most of you know, I love all “things” martial arts. Striking, throwing, joint locks, chokes, grappling, weapons……you name it. I love training, learning, and teaching all of them. Furthermore, self-defense, in my opinion, requires skill in all of these areas (or at least a solid awareness of all).
Attackers come at us with whatever they know… We don’t get to choose the style or method, they do. They may not be as trained or skilled, but they will do what they know from experience or instinct. They will “choose” the type of fight that we engage in.
I believe the first line of defense is a solid spatial awareness and what method can be utilized per that distance. In other words, your distance decides your fighting method. All people should have a fundamental arsenal of striking and kicking; a good punch or palm, elbow, solid kicks, and knee strikes should be in our tool boxes. Next, joint locking and manipulation is a must at close range for entanglement attacks that disallow striking defense. This can progress into some sort of throwing or take down action with a “finishing technique.” We also have to be ready in case we end up going to the ground with the attacker, or the attacker somehow gets us down on his/her own power. Hence, grappling and ground skills are crucial.
My point is that although I study all arts because I love them, it is an absolute NEED to matriculate all skills into my plan. True self-defense requires a readiness in all areas and the courage to deal with the presented attack. I strongly suggest you adopt this mind set to be ready for all circumstances…Just my opinion…
PS We all have our base art and the ones we love the most; I’m not preaching to not have that…..I’m here as always if you need….
I have never been driven by possessions to define my worth and existence. I’m finding lately that I am moving further away from material goals and focusing on minimalization and organization as my primary pursuits. I highly recommend you truly look at the amount of “stuff“ you have and consider purging anything that you don’t need, use, or want. I’ve been doing this and finding that my internal peace, which I hold the most valuable, is increasing.
I go home at night and enjoy the clean, un-cluttered, non-stuffed house that I live in. It helps me recharge and ready my self for the busy days that I experience. Life seems so busy for most, and I believe that it is adding to the turmoil in the world. I have researched many methods, and can say that it is not easy to path a walk. (but it does exist)
The subject further transcends into spending and finances, but once you stop making un-needed purchases, finances start to get organized and stable. Magically, most stress diminishes for me as these issues become less overwhelming.
Another caveat is the hectic schedules we all have. Owning a few businesses keeps me on my toes, but I’ve been focusing on slowing down, pacing myself, and simply choosing against certain events so that my longevity is secure. A good friend once taught me that I’m not saying NO to something…” I’m saying YES to me.
I have been spending a great deal of time on this subject, and my calmness is increasing daily. I recommend that you consider the same if your life feels unstable or chaotic. It’s my sole belief that the subject is probably the center of most people’s anxiety. I am by no means an expert, but I’m becoming knowledgeable, and am here to help if you need.
Barb and I have an amazing group of friends who we meet with every two weeks to discuss parenting, marriage, friendship, and life. Last night, it was posed during our chat…”what Is your primary drive In life and why?”
This hit me at a pivotal moment because I was already pondering this writing you are currently reading. As I use my common metaphorical teaching tool (Superman), I pose a further deeper question…What Is your kryptonite, when did you receive it, and how’s It working out for you now?
I can only speak for myself as a comparison, so I’ll give you insight into my psyche and how it has played out. As a child, I was quiet, shy, and fairly Insecure. I did well in studies and read a lot, but really kept to myself. I didn’t get into sports or clubs, which lead to further Introversion and honestly, fear. As I progressed through grade school, I intellectually knew what I wanted , but kept gradually descending into further shyness and loneliness.
By middle school, I had grown weary of the situation, and as most of you know, began studying martial arts. The problem is that I didn’t really gain any sort of confidence despite it all until much later. I was a doctor by this point, had a generally successful dojo, and was doing well in spite of myself.
A few years back, I was still struggling with the same redundant insecurities that had always been there, but realized these insecurities were why I was driven to be successful. Meanwhile, I was constantly burned out, struggling financially, not maintaining my health as I wanted, and I was simply not what was depicted on the outside. My mind was as it Is now, but I was struggling just to maintain a healthy flow. I’m sure many of you can relate.
Here’s my long winded point….you have to absolutely identify what Is holding you back, what is driving you, what is constantly looming in your mind. I could never actually turn my mind off for fear I would fail and crash.
When I realized that all of this was absurd, and that there are absolute priorities in life that have to govern, I started to heal. I’m personally in an amazing marriage; my friends, family, patients, and students have never been so intentional as now. I learned what was important for happiness and success rather than listening to the inner insecure voice telling me I was never going to be good enough.
Some may find this to be too much information, but this is part of what is making my future so much more fulfilled. To be intentional, honest, transparent and hopefully help many of you along the way. Otherwise, I pray you live well despite your own personal kryptonite.
I’m hoping to have many of you journey along with me so I’m not that lonely little boy in my second act….and honestly, I’m ok with myself if I had to move along alone….that’s the bonus….luckily, I’m blessed with countless relationships, but mostly, my beautiful wife.
My suggestion Is to dig down deep…find your personal “kryptonite” and smash the sh%$#t out of it. If you need help, I have much experience to offer In your journey.
I wish you well.