So I received my white belt in taekwondo! How exciting!
I’m sure there are people wondering “Umm… isn’t the white belt the lowest grade in ANY martial arts?”
Well, yes it is, but when you’re starting a new martial art, you’re always going to start at white belt, right?
So here’s the thing – when you get your white belt, you aspire to reach the next belt, the next level in your training, where you learn new forms and patterns, new skills and techniques, you’re that much better, that much more skilled – and you’re not at the bottom of the class anymore, in fact you’re getting closer to playing with the big kids now.
So here I am, a somewhat experienced martial artist having started learning martial arts since I was 5. I’ve studied karate, ninjutsu, and wing chun and now here I am, at it again, this time with taekwondo. I’ve also done weapons based martial arts like fencing and archery.
Admittedly, while I progressed in every hand-to-hand martial art, I never reached my black belt.
I never achieved the prestige of a black belt.
I started with karate when I was a kid. I worked hard and received special commendations from my Sensei. However as my parents had taken me to overseas for a while I wasn’t able to continue my training. Upon returning to my training, my karate was pretty rusty as you can imagine, so when the time came for my grading I wasn’t passed to the next belt.
It was worse when I saw the other kids in my class all advancing in their grades. With me getting “left behind” to refine and perfect my skills I actually felt disappointed and it eroded my confidence. Eventually I lost interest in karate, and I persuaded my parents to let me quit.
Fast forward to my teenage years, my obsession with ninjas lead me to reignite my passion for martial arts, so at the time my best friend and I decided that we would actually learnt ninjutsu, and we really enjoyed it.
However a year later, he lost interest and quit. I tried to push on, but without my friend, I felt abandoned and I eventually quit too.
Now, to my credit, I did pick it up again a few years later, and whilst I enjoyed it, I found that I couldn’t commit the time, given my erratic working schedule I left a second time.
However within a few months I decided to start afresh and try wing chun, and the training centre was more conveniently located and I could also work it into my study schedule.
Now I loved wing chun and given that it was the first martial art that Bruce Lee learnt, I felt a sense of pride in the connection I shared with one of the greatest martial artists ever. I did that for about a year, however a career change made it impossible for me to attend, and so I ended up leaving my wing chun training as well.
And so I was thwarted in my journey to becoming a black belt martial artist.
So how will this time be any different?
Surely some lame excuse or a change in circumstance could prevent me from progressing and attaining my black belt in taekwondo, so why am I even taking this effort?
Well, that’s a good question!
Here’s what’s different this time around:
I have the self-awareness that whilst external conditions take place, it is my choice whether I will let these influence my internal resolve.
Our reactions are just that – reactions. We are not bound by are reactions, they are not decisions.
Our reactions are purely emotional, and justified rationally, however our resolve must be rational and supported emotionally.
The two are actually mutually exclusive – however in my case, and with the lack of awareness and the inexperience – I had mixed the two.
Just because I hit a plateau, it didn’t mean I had to stop.
I needed to persist.
Just because I had a friend wanted to quit, it didn’t mean I had to.
I needed determination to follow my path.
Just because some life situations change, it doesn’t mean that everything has to change.
I needed the flexibility to adapt.
And we can apply these insights to everything we do in life, including our business.
Whether it is a black belt in martial arts or whether it is a profitable business, the rules are the same.
- You don’t need a reason to start, other than your desire and drive.
- You don’t need an external reason to stop, only an internal realisation that this is not what you want any more.
- If you really want something, all you need is the persistence, determination and flexibility to pursue it.
With persistence, determination, and flexibility I’m certain that I will achieve black belt in not only taekwondo, but also my health and fitness, my personal life, and my business.
I don’t doubt it will be hard work.
I know that there will be times I will plateau.
There will be setbacks, frustrations and every other challenge that comes with learning a new skill. On the other side of these challenges are where the rewards lie – the black belt, the mastery, the knowledge, the pride and the confidence from knowing that I have worked hard and achieved what I set out to do… and succeeded!
It’s no difference in life, or business.
All I need is persistence, determination and the flexibility to pursue it.
Armed with these insights, I’m excited to receive my white belt in taekwondo.