How many people do you know that have been dedicated to something for more than three decades? Hell, most marriages don’t even last a year these days. But that is how long I have been involved in martial arts in one shape or form. Clearly my role in martial arts has little to do with getting rich, because if that was the case, I chose the wrong profession. No, and as I have noted elsewhere martial arts is an integral part of my life, for many reasons, but most importantly because the experience on the mat has helped me work through a lot of trauma from my childhood. In other words, money or not, I would do it anyway.
In 2012 I embarked on a formal educational journey (i.e., my PhD), which I now realise was in fact a culmination of years of informal study. You see, as far back as a decade ago, I began to realise that my personal performance in the ‘fight game’ was largely predicated on what was happening on the inside. Said another way, if I stepped onto the mat filled with self-doubt, anxiety, and self defeating thoughts, it would invariably impact my game. While my research as an academic has been specifically focused on the inner game of leadership, with a specific attention to mindfulness in action — my realisation has been, that these tools expand to all areas of one’s life.
There is a lot of fuss made about setting goals. Tony Robbins says, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” I think goals are great, but it seems that most people never achieve them, partly because they don’t realize that a goal is part of a journey. Setting a goal without action is simply a dream. Achieving a goal takes work. Not just work every now and then, but consistent work, every single day. You can’t just work on a goal half heartedly when you feel like it and then think you will wake up one morning and TADA there it is, achievement.
More than a decade ago I was obsessed with functionality in my martial arts training. Part of this was driven by the real necessity to know how to fight to survive, and part was driven my childhood trauma. I abandoned everything else martial arts had to offer me, in search for the truth in hand to hand combat. Through those years of testing, experimenting and fighting — I believe I succeeded in finding a method that works in almost all interpersonal aggressive encounters. I proved it out on the streets, outside the doors of nightclubs as a bouncer, in the ring, and on my mat in thousands of rounds of all out sparring.
I have written extensively about martial arts as a catalyst for personal mastery in life. Yet, the opposite is equally true. How you show up in life, is how you will show up on the mat. I believe the mat, and life, or life and the mat are in a constant symbiotic relationship. They are both reliable on each other to be successful.