“Martial Arts is not about being better than the other person, it’s about being better than you were yesterday.”
Frankly, I think that’s not entirely true…
Martial Arts – and life in general, for that matter – is about competition. It is about having the ability to beat someone, if necessary. Not in a violent or angry way, but in a healthy, competitive way.
Of course, we want to better ourselves each day. Tae Kwon-Do is certainly a perfect tool for that. But if you’re in a fight, you want to be better than the other person. If you’re applying for a job, you want to be more qualified than any other candidate.
If you get angry in the ring, you have already lost. You are almost inevitably going to make careless mistakes, and it will cost you your match. And if you get angry every time you lose, inside or outside the ring, you’re going to live an angry life.
But when you look at each defeat as another stepping stone toward success, you win every time.
I’m Italian. I have a bit of a short fuse.
I’m not immune to getting irate when someone cuts me off in traffic. The world is not getting any smarter, and there are plenty of things out there that can raise my anger.
But if I lived in that anger, and carried it around with no way of processing it, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. It is through Tae Kwon-Do that I acquired the tools to be able to do so. I have learned, through breathing, patterns, and training, how to calm angry feelings.
It’s a form of active meditation, I suppose.
When I started Tae Kwon-Do, I was an athlete. A compulsive winner. I didn’t like losing one bit. But I just kept meeting people in Tae Kwon-Do that were better than me. I had to learn how to beat them, or how to deal with the fact that I couldn’t.
Some would say that makes me a good loser. There’s nothing in this world I’d like to be known as less. As Josh Allen once said, “You show me someone who is okay with losing, and I’ll show you a loser.”
In defeat, we should not be passive. But we should also not allow ourselves to succumb to anger. Anger is more damaging to you as a person than the object of your anger.
What we experience in defeat is grief. Someone beat you. Either you didn’t do as good of a job as you should have, or you didn’t do as good a job as your opponent.
Grief is an opportunity for reflection. During a moment of loss, I have to let myself feel it. I show respect to my opponent, put the experience in its place, and quickly begin to reconstruct what I need to win in the future. That could be in patterns, fighting, or some aspect of my lifestyle.
As you know, I recently lost my instructor and mentor, Grand Master Park. I am still grieving from that. He was a father to me and, perhaps because I lost my real father at such a young age, I became more bonded with him. I feel his absence more intensely.
I think what allows me to keep that grief in its place is remembering what Grand Master Park left me. He left me with a better outlook on life. He left me with my martial arts abilities. He left me with knowledge, and the desire to spread that knowledge. He left me a sense of class, and a path to grow old more graciously.
One of the many things that separates martial artists from others is that we accept that life is a series of ups and downs. Life and death, good and bad, yin and yang.
Our training and our indomitable spirit and courage is what allows us to persist. To become.
Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, visit the Contact Us page or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!