Failure is Just a Lesson by Another Name


Have you ever wanted to be more than yourself?

You know ... just better. Or stronger. Faster. Cooler.

When I first started martial arts it wasn't because I had a grand scheme. I had no idea what I was in for. All I knew was what I saw from the television. That individuals who were trained in these martial arts were capable of amazing feats. They were brave, and unlike what you get from superheroes out of the MCU these days, martial artists were real. And there were places I could go to which'll step me closer to what I wanted to learn.

Fast forward several years.

I continued my practice and my journey, I gained some tremendous skills. I was young, fit and athletic. And the techniques I was capable of were fast, strong, and impressive. There were people who looked up to me because it seemed as I was ahead of the curve, I was making less mistakes than they were. At a stretch, my abilities even made me seem infallible.

There came a time however, when I decided to give it all up. Not really to quit martial arts. But I came to the realization that I needed to stop using the same yardstick to guide my progress. I needed to break down the flimsy walls I myself created to prop up my own ego. I needed to challenge the assumptions justifying my concept of reality.

Sounds a bit dramatic, doesn't it?

But that is how JDK and our brand of Traditional Taekwondo really started.

I wanted to immerse myself in our system to find out what it really offered. I was willing to put in the time ... to risk ... EVERYTHING. ANd I wasn't afraid of embarrassment or ridicule.

Now, 35 years after I began my journey, I write this blog to share this story as a life lesson. When I first started, I wanted to grow in strength. In confidence. And of course ability. As I continued on this path, it seemed my expertise required me to increase speed, strength, and ability. However, there are limits to how far we can push human limits. To not realise such physical limitations is a delusion.

Yet, nearing my 50th birthday I am able to see continued improvement in my own abilities. Despite injuries, and not training myself as hard as I used to do when younger ... in spite of age .... I feel I am a far better martial artist today than I was when I was a young black belt.

And yes, it relates to what you see from this video. A dingy private garage dojang. Practitioners having fun. Playing with technique. Working at it playfully, in fact. Sharing of an unscripted training session. And then the knowledge that this video was uploaded on YouTube to showcase our approach to a well known pattern.

It was no coincidence JDK has taken quantum leaps. But it's not because we did more pushups. Nor was it because we only showed things which are shiny and slick. It's because we had no problem making mistakes. We do play around with concepts. We explore. We really learn from each other. We don't mind giving it a go.

If something doesn't work, we rework it. Or it falls to the wayside. And we work on something new. Then as we make new discoveries, we might return to rework the old understanding. There is nothing less serious about our approach. We deliberate. We have diligence. We are disciplined. Failure is a lesson by another name!

Ready to come ride the  or the 'do' of  Joong Do Kwan?

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