Writing to Taste Life Twice

First in the Moment then in Retrospect

(Reading time: 3 - 6 minutes)

As a life long martial artist, the reason to train is a long and consistent question asked commonly by those who do not train and those who are in the intermediate stages of training. Yes, I do mean that the question is the actual reason because the question itself will reveal intentions. Those intentions will then require your decision to act. Here are a few items to consider:

  • Training Values: Our starting point
  • 5 Mental Stages of Loss: Inward reflection
  • Work/Life Integration: It is what I am and do

Training Values

We have to take a look at the idea of value first. If we don't understand what value is, then there will be no reason to train. My observations on the common reasons people give on the value of training are the tip of the iceberg reasons like self defense, what if situations, sport and fitness. Mostly spoken from a violence or dominating perspective. These do have their place in our ego as this is part of how we all develop confidence, but we have to look past the beginner phases. This is where the true value lies.

So what is value? Value, in my opinion, is defined as an instrinsic perception of what we and others feel towards something. Whether its from being deserving, important or useful. Something that comes to mind is an age old saying of one man's trash is another man's treasure. This is where value lies. Its in having and not having. If one comes from a place that has an abundant amount of physical protection, then self defense would probably have no value as it is covered by an external source. If one comes from a place that violence was experienced, then self defense has a much greater value. If one is young and fit, then the fitness aspect may be valued less than someone who desires it.

This all boils down to what we want out of training. There are different teachers that have their philosophies around their value systems. As for me, I consider my philosophies conservative but lean towards trusted capabilities. I like to use the sport and art to have fun while developing skills, have street smarts and create the work-life integration that many of us persue to last our life time. It allows for the outlier to emerge and become a world champion or the average Joe to raise himself up to a higher standard. This is what I believe people truely want. Its for a higher level of self. If you have the eye for it, you'll see that training answers everything.

  • Want confidence? Train
  • Want to lose weight? Train
  • Want to know more? Train aka educate yourself
  • Want to protect yourself and/or others? Train
  • Want to develop patience? Train it
  • Want to get out of depression? Train
  • Want to practice better relationships? Train

You may not think martial arts might be valueable enough for you, but the answer remains the same in anything you want for yourself. Train.

5 Mental Stages of Loss

Recently, I took on learning about the stock market. A personal endevour that I have my personal beliefs in. While practicing with my paper trading account, I thought of the emotional burden that comes from the potential of losing a lot of money. So down the YouTube rabbit hole I went. I found many good informational clips and many bad one. But one stuck out to me as it clearly describes what martial artists go through when they begin their training journey, when they enter competitions or when they've hit their plateau. Check it out this video if you have the time and study it from the mind of extracting the usefulness of the psychology. In short though, I'll list what he talks about and translate it as a martial artist.

  • Emotional Pain: This is where we begin the value creation process. With the need to avoid further pain, we look to find answers. Using violence as the common starting place, we can see the value of learning and training martial arts. 
  • Changes in Life: The emotional pain affects our life. Then, we find the need to improve our skill sets to mitigate the pain in the next instance emotional pain occurs. We start to research and find what we need. Many people get stuck here.
  • Identity: We question ourselves and who we are. Should I, could I, would I...etc. Here is a potential situation of quitting or, better, becoming real with ourselves. Another majority of people get stuck here as well.
  • Reconstruction: What am I doing right? What I am doing wrong? This is the scientists approach to develop a better routine. We break down what we are doing. Then we rebuild and reevaluate.
  • Adjust Beliefs: When we get to a point of development in ourselves, the old quotes and saying become more relevant and hits home harder than it did before. Ultimately, our beliefs increase or decrease based on what the reconstruction phase did for us. The best case scenario being improvement then we start the cycle again.

Going through this list for myself, I can reflect on when I started the martial arts and how many times I've cycled through it. Some observations are that the people who make it to black belt cycle through this about 3-4 times. The people who quit barely gets through one cycle.

So in retrospect, the more times we get through a cycle aka repping all the stages, we find more confidence and value to what we do.

Work/Life Integration

Just as it was mentioned above, achieving the black belt levels require getting past each stage. The way I see it, there are many of us that can skip to the reconstruction phase and get on to the part that believing what we do and who we are is valueable. The more times we rep the cycle, the stronger our value towards training becomes. I'm not saying that black belts don't get emotional. I'm just saying that our training helps get through that part much faster than last time.

In the end, we tend to fall to our base of what our training taught us and that's where work-life integration takes over. Its who we are and what we do. Its not a hobby. Its a way of life.

We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.

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