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Ant on a white flower

From the very start of my martial arts life I have been perceived as weak and fragile. What people didn’t understand was that it wasn’t my mind or my spirit that was weak it was my body and my presentation of myself that was weak.

Many people who are considered weak and fragile have been through incredible trauma. Some have post traumatic stress, some have depression, and some have debilitating illness. Yet they all get up day after day and soldier on, despite feeling like they want to get out and that no one understands. Some give in to this temptation, but I do not consider them weak, I’d rather consider them mostly exhausted.

In martial arts your greatest enemy is yourself. The greatest power you have is in what you think about yourself and how you go about your life. Often life throws things at us, that make us helpless and useless. Happiness is fleeting and precious, and unlikely to be where you first seek it. So you have to pay attention. Only by knowing yourself and facing every fear can you conquer your greatest demons, get out and stay out of bad situations. Sometimes it may seem that every choice you have is stuck somewhere between a rock and a hard place.

I don’t think I would be where I am today without what karate has given me. Every belt was a lesson about myself, a release of things I should not have been holding on to. A clearing process if you like. Early belts gave me a physical outlet, that enabled me to get the agitation out of my body so I could then organise my thoughts and verbalize them. I cannot stress how helpful this is. Punching and kicking is only one part of the process, if you do not do the verbal part then you will be stuck in a loop, and may become more aggressive as you get the dopamine hit from the physical exercise.

I am a different person to the new black belt I was in 2012. People don’t believe me now when I tell them how I was. So as far as I’m concerned I’ve always been strong. I’ve still plenty more issues to fight. The difference is I now have better tools to work with.

If we look at the tao, all weakness has strength and all strengths have weaknesses. What you think is your greatest strength, could actually be your greatest weakness and the thing that is holding you back the most.

tao weak strong