Managing Disappointment

“The highest reward for man’s hard work is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.”

Remember that the study of traditional martial arts is a journey and not a destination. A journey that takes time, patience, and hard work. There are times within one’s journey that there are highs and lows. Sometimes the practitioner feels on top of the world with their successes and then sometimes they feel that progress is slow and frustrating. At that point, frustration can occur.

If one stays for any extended length of time in the martial arts, there will be failures. Yes, failures. There will be times when one’s performance in challenging classes is not up to what the student would like, or what he feels he should be reaping as a result of his efforts and time. When a failure occurs, the student might feel cheated or he might feel that something was taken from him that he deserved. The most counterproductive thing a student can do is blame everyone and everything for his failure. If he fails a rank examination, he actually justifies the no-change by this thinking which is unfortunate for him. This poisonous thinking can effect his continued training and his outlook on his instructor(s) and peers. For some, this is the beginning of the end of their training.

Examinations are not only a time to test one’s skill, but to also test one’s mental resolve. If he fails an exam, is he going to use the experience as a learning tool and go back to dojang training with a better idea of what he needs to work on to improve. Or is he going to choose the easy way which could be acting like a baby, gossiping to other students about how it “wasn’t run right”, or just quitting his training. Which creates a pattern of behavior that could spill over into other areas of his life now and in the future?

If a student competes in a tournament, he must realise that judges have different perspectives and every effort, in 99.9% of cases, is made to make the matches “fair”. If you loose, then stand up straight and bow out with dignity and respect when the match is over. Go back to the dojang with an idea of what you need to work on. These competitive situations and rank examinations test your determination and resolve. Can you and have you prepared yourself mentally and physically? Do you know what questions to ask because you are training 100% and training 100% generates questions that yield answers that are most probably pertinent to your next rank examination or tournament classification? When your instructor handed out explicit tournament preparation plans, did you do what was on the plan? Did you practice fervently the methods that were given to you? Did you make the wrong choices such as watching DVD’s instead of adhering to the methods that you have been taught and self-training (a.k.a. practice)?

Mentally, physically, and emotionally getting through exams and tournaments prepare you for other challenging situations in life. If you were ever attacked in the street, are you training in such a way that you could put the skills that are shown to you to work in a life or death situation?

The martial artist must bear in mind and heart that his training is a process and that he can learn more from losses than successes. Remember that success is built on failure and perseverance is the essence of success.