Lessons Learned As I Got My Ass Kicked

I get bruises, cuts, and calluses. Weekly. How? Because I am getting my ass kicked! Willingly and obligingly! Yeah!

As a new Black belt in Shotokan karate, I’ve learned a lot of the fundamentals and basics of what it takes to reach my 1st degree Black. But that alone does not sustain me and help me reach the next level. What will?

To Get To The Next Level:

  • An open mind and willingness to learn
  • Hard work, and many hours of practice (even talented martial artists don’t get to be where they are at without tons of practice)
  • Discernment to know when to rest and go easy
  • Asking good questions
  • Training smart with good intent
  • Focus and a passion for the art itself
  • Respecting other senseis (teachers) and students (one can learn a lot from others who are lower rank as well)

As I’ve competed in many local, national, and international tournaments over the years, I’ve learned several lessons while getting my ass kicked (and how these apply to life).

4 Lessons Learned While Getting My Ass Kicked (and How These Apply to Life):

1. Don’t lean in to get your face closer to their fist. You will get punched.

As I’ve had a couple of bloody noses on the competition mats from being stupid and getting my face punched, I had to learn the difficult way that sometimes, leaning in too much is not a smart thing to do.

In life, you have to know when to back off of something that will just bite you back. An angry, unleashed dog for example. Or a partner who has anger management issues. Knowing the difference can make all the difference.

2. Don’t just take someone’s word for it. Try it out yourself and ask good questions.

If someone told me that jeet kune do was the best martial art out there, I’d have to question them on their logic and reasoning. Bruce Lee’s awesome, don’t get me wrong. The fact of the matter is, every martial art is unique and has a wide range of applications, which doesn’t allow one to be superior to another. It’s just different.

Karate was meant to take out multiple opponents with distance fighting and being on your two feet. Jiu Jitsu was meant to take out those who know karate and grapple them to the ground, where they are more vulnerable. Wrestling was meant to take out those who know jiu jitsu. It’s cyclical. Doesn’t mean one is better than another.

So if someone makes a very brazen comment that this ideology is superior to all others, or this lifestyle is by far the best, or this restaurant totally trumps all others, don’t just take their word for it. Ask good questions, try things out yourself. Make your own decision.

3. Train hard but not stupidly.

Training hard doesn’t mean training stupidly. If you’re hurt, exhausted, or not in the right frame of mind, don’t push it out and train. You won’t benefit from it nor soak any new information in while you’re in a funk.

Same applies to our everyday life situations. Working 16-hour days to push out that major proposal to a client may help you finish the proposal but at the cost of your sanity and stress levels. It’s just not worth it. By going home at a decent time, resting, and waking up refreshed and alert, you’ll get a lot better work done than staying at the office and pounding the project out.

4. Identify your goals and then work towards it.

If your goal is to become a Black belt, training weekly, eating healthy, and being extremely focused with great tenacity will help get you there. It’s not a guarantee but it’ll help immensely.

You also have to realize your reasoning behind why you want to be a kick ass Black belt. Is it just for the belt color and the title of being a Black belt? If that is the case, I’m sorry, but you don’t deserve it.

If, however, you embody what it means to be a master, are willing to take the martial art to the next level, and embrace its concepts and philosophies more as a way of life, not as a means to an end, then you are more than ready.

Your goals need not differ in priority. Just replace the words “Black belt” with the next promotion up you’ve been wanting. Or the hobby you are involved in. Or the dream you have for yourself.

You can totally kick ass; I know you can do it!


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View Comments

  1. Another great post, Nina.

    But how do you maintain the energy to continue fighting?

    • I ask myself the same question, Kiran! Sometimes, it’s just sheer determination and an unwavering focus on my goals. Also, maybe I’m a bit nutty and crazy! Who else finds karate training on a weekly basis for over 4 years straight fun, challenging, and exciting? It has to be someone crazy. lol :)

  2. tokyin says:

    Very great post/analogy.

    Things I learnt when I get my ass kicked?

    1. There are always someone who is better than me. Admit it, stay humble, and learn from them.

    2. Keep my head up – straight and tall, no matter what.
    There’s always new chances.

    3. They kicked my hemorrhoid back into my rectum. Very cool.
    Next time I have constipation, it will come back out anyway. Very hot.

    4. Kicking my ass sometimes can break their leg – which is a bonus as my ass is not boneless… it’s kind of hard.

    5. Sometimes, I just have to run.
    Not because I am a coward. But because, it the best thing/wise thing to do so.

    All in all,
    - We learn a lot more from our mistakes than in classroom.
    - We learn a lot more from those people who once failed but still keep working towards their goal; than those who think (or talk like) they have it all in life.
    - We learn a lot more when we face difficult circumstances/situations.

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