Motivation in the martial arts

Motivation in the martial arts

The problem with motivation sometimes is that many motivational things manipulate us with the sense of inferiority they create. Sometimes this is helpful, but sometimes this repeatedly reinforced sense of inferiority can become paralyzing.

I encountered this relatively recently. In my youth, when I was practicing martial arts, I could without a second thought land a “mawashi geri” (circular kick) to the head of a man fifteen centimeters taller than me without any warm-up.

The leg came out quite naturally, I didn’t think for a second about the blow. There was a target – boom, knockdown, or knockout. Over the years I got used to this feeling of lightness in my legs, and it seemed completely natural to me. Later I ended up in the ICU, and after lying there for twelve days between life and death, I realized that I had to re-learn how to walk and swallow (which was much more unpleasant).

About six months later, when I had recovered enough to be able, for example, to get on the bus without assistance, I was horrified to discover that the elasticity of the ligaments was gone. I couldn’t lift my leg above knee level.

Later, I spent enough time trying to regain my lost flexibility, but the lightness of my legs never returned. I was able to get my leg to hit the liver level more or less comfortably, but I seemed to have to say goodbye to hitting the upper level. You’d think that would have made me feel a little dejected. But…

A couple of years ago I stopped by my great friend, a man I consider my True Coach, for a cup of tea. Unfortunately for me, my trainer had given up martial arts fifteen years ago and switched completely to yoga. However, it was in yoga that he got the advice that helped me.

He literally said the following:

“You have to identify what your strengths are. We very often talk about our shortcomings and focus on eliminating them. But it is more advantageous to focus on our strengths and develop them. By developing our strengths, we automatically get rid of a lot of our weaknesses.”

WTF? – I thought. Why do I need this Budo? There are many types of martial arts that do not require much elasticity in the groin ligaments. Among the multicolor fanfare of Okinawan, Indomalayan, Filipino, modern, so-called reality-based martial arts, one can choose the style that best suits my body and my age.

After all, I’m not going to become a tournament fighter with only one goal in front of him – to become a champion within a certain kind of rules. The goal of followers of reality-based martial arts is to become adaptable enough to “stop worrying and start living” 🙂 In other words, there is no ultimate goal, there is a flow in which you move, bringing your body and spirit into harmony.

The eminent fighter Justo Dieguez once said:

“When you feel like a King, the man in the mirror looks into your eyes. No one can judge you, only your eyes looking at you through the mirror. People can call you brilliant and wonderful, but only your own eyes can tell you who you really are. Even if you manage to deceive the whole world during your life, the prize you receive will be fruitless, for you can never deceive yourself by looking into the eyes reflected in the mirror.”

How can you apply the yogic approach of “develop your strengths, and the weak ones will pull themselves up” in situations outside the fight room? In my opinion, this technique, first of all, eliminates unhealthy paranoia about one’s own imperfection and helps one move forward in almost any situation.

There is always a strong point. There is always an edge that can be polished to an even more mirror-like shine. There is always a door that opens to replace one that has slammed shut. Finding it is only a matter of creative effort. But in the end, it’s that kind of effort that makes our lives more interesting.


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