The struggle is what brings the value to the success
Where did we get the idea that training is always going to be exciting, fun, and inspirational? I think it’s because when we sign up for this journey we are excited, and can’t wait to get started and learn the life that awaits us on the mats.
The thing is. It’s never always easy, as much as I wish it was. It isn’t. When a person trains for a period of time, it is inevitable they will hit a plateau for days, weeks, and sometimes even months. It is very hard to step on those mats when you feel like you aren’t learning anything, aren’t getting any better, aren’t getting any stronger or faster. But the thing is, it’s important to have respect for the fact that we are still learning - although sometimes we feel like we aren’t. There is so much that happens in this journey that we don’t even feel, recognize or see. Commonly were so focused on everything that we need to improve on. But we forget that ‘failure’ is part of the process (I put ‘failure’ in parenthesis because I believe the only real failure is if a person gives up. If they are consistent it is inevitable the success will come).
Because, without ‘failure’, the success doesn’t mean anything anyways.
Do victories mean anything without the struggles?
The thing is, we just need to last longer than the plateau does. Training is a lot like life, it is a strong parallel. There are good times and there are hard times, it teaches us so much about ourselves, and about others. About victory and defeat, about the discomfort of growing and the pain of challenge,
But the thing is, I think the martial art journey teaches us more than life does sometimes. In life I find that I can become incredibly disconnected, from who I am, from what I want, from even emotions at times. On the mats, there is no escaping that real vulnerability.
If I am too hard on myself and expect everything to be perfect all the time, the mats will teach me that I need to attempt something even when I feel ‘I am not ready’ - because if I don’t I won’t do anything at all. And I can’t stand still, otherwise my partner will win. I need to move and take that imperfect risk. The beauty of it is - next time I will have learned how to do it better, then even better the time after that.
The mats teach me the importance of eating healthy. Because if I treat my body like shit I can’t perform to even an acceptable level. Then I can’t train efficiently. If I am putting all this time onto the mats I need my body to be capable of what I need it to do.
I need to be in tune with myself. I can’t lose self control through frustration because then I lose everything. I have to control my own emotions and learn how to channel them into a quiet but strong, fast and technical movement for the win.
I need to accept that it’s okay to make mistakes. That I have to be willing to fail, pick myself up and fail again - because that is how we find the victories. It will never be perfect and it’s not meant to. If everything was perfect - Where is the growth in that, where is the learning in that, where is the value in that.
Sometimes I am on the mats every night because it keeps me doing something healthy for myself. Keeps me from eating crappy food, drinking, wasting time watching tv and shamelessly scrolling social media. Sometimes me being on the mats has nothing to do with me being on the mats at all, but everything to do with keeping me from being off the mats and what happens there.
If I am exhausted and drained on the mats it leads me to ask myself ‘why’. I am realizing sometimes it isn’t even the concept of getting more sleep. But making sure I have the right type of recharge time. Being outside, hiking, gardening, yoga, reading. Sometimes being tired isn’t really about being tired at all, it’s about having the right type of recharge time.
Don’t worry about the plateaus and don’t be discourage by them, because they will come. And they will last as long as they last. Just don’t let them outlast you. Just bury your head, dig your heels and push through them. Keep showing up on those mats day in and day out. Because although we don’t realize it - there is work that happens that we don’t recognize it. This journey isn’t for the faint of heart, nor is it for those who aren’t ready.
But for those that are.
This is how it’s done. Little by little, drip by drip, decision by decision, step by step. Then one day you look back at your journey and ten years has passed. You are a brown belt and a Masters World Champion, and you feel like you have barely started.
The time is going to pass anyways. Might as well invest it wisely.
This has been the best time investment I have made for myself in my life, and is why I am who I am today. Keeps me centred, keeps me strong, keeps me accountable, keeps me challenged, keeps me disciplined.
Sometimes you have to breakdown before you hit your breakthrough.
The struggle is what brings the value to the success.