Monday, October 6, 2014

Go Fail at Something (I mean this in the most encouraging way.)

There are two very important lessons in martial arts that a student is taught from day one. The first is to keep your guard up. The second is how to fall. These are not just basic and practical lessons for safety, but valuable lessons for life.

Always be prepared. How did I learn to keep my guard up? I was punched in the face. repeatedly. After feeling your brain rattle in your head a few times (more like a few hundred), your hands will learn to stay in front of your face. But the thing is, if I hadn't taken so many head shots, my guard would still be down protecting my stomach- which only prepares me for a battle with an angry eight year old, an elf, and maybe a disgruntled hobbit.

We all have to keep our guards up and be prepared in life. Yes, it's okay to "let your guard down" around certain people. You don't need to constantly be on the defense at every waking moment, walking around looking like the Fighting Irish. Just be able to defend yourself. In sparring, an opponent may occasionally (for whatever reason) throw a kick or technique that could not possibly reach you (I'm guilty of it too). Do you need to block that kick? No, let the person waste their energy, and spend your energy on defending something that is an actual threat.

However, the only way we can ever be truly prepared for anything, is if we're knocked up-side the head when we are not prepared. This could be a poor grade on a test, not having paperwork ready for a meeting, being late, or writing a blog post moments before the deadline. My Worst Blog Post Ever two weeks ago was definitely an example of dropping my guard. I was not prepared and "hit in the face" at the last minute with writer's block. However, I learned something about myself and how to break through that block. Plus, that post, which I was hoping no one would see, has become one of my most-viewed in a single week posts! I even received feedback from a big-time writing blogger.

Learning how to fall.

Learning how to fall is a scary thing. Stand up. Now jump to the floor. Okay, we don't quite start there. We start on our knees. Exhaling keeps your diaphragm from collapsing. Practicing to land "finger-tips to elbows" overcomes the instinct of reaching for the ground, which results in broken wrists. We turn our heads to look behind us to protect our face (and perhaps see an attacker). After getting the wind knocked out of me, bruises, and a fractured wrist (snowboarding...attempt), I eventually learned how to fall. It was a great feeling when I tripped on the stairs and naturally caught myself correctly. Falling has become second nature.

We learn to how to fall so that we don't injure ourselves and become unable to get back up. Falling isn't a bad thing. It is okay to fall; it is not okay to stay down. If I never fell from a kneeling position, I would be a lot more fearful of falling from a standing position.

Knowing how to fall is freeing. I'm less afraid because I know that if I fall- it's not the end. I know that I can get back up. This allows me to be more bold in taking risks (as long as I take that risk with my guard up.)

I know this is nothing new or exciting. We all know that life is full of falling and failure. But I also know that we all need to be reminded of that sometimes.

So this may perhaps seem like a very de-motivational post...but go fall down today. (Figuratively speaking. Unless you do know how to break-fall...I'm not suggesting that you intentionally go physically throw yourself to the ground. You might concern some people or break something.)

Go fight something you've been fearing.
Be prepared. Keep your guard up.
If you fail- good!

 Just get back up with the wisdom to now avoid whatever made you fall.
As my sensei, Mr. Rehn, would tell us, "Seven times down, eight time up."

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