A Lesson Learned

If you ever wonder what I do when I am not training or waxing philosophical on a mat, here is one thing I do in what little spare time I have: write. If you read this blog, you already knew that. I write for local newspapers and magazines as well as research papers for graduate school. I recently had a piece published in Deep South Magazine that is deeply meaningful to me. It tells of a time when a chance meeting opened my mind to the world around me. Please take a minute to read it if you can. And as always, thank you for being a willing audience.

Here is the link: https://deepsouthmag.com/2019/07/25/a-lesson-learned/

Pull the trigger and eat the frog.

Judo coach Hap Wheeler always has words of encouragement for his students as they maneuver through techniques against unwilling opponents: “Pull the trigger.” I hear him say this phrase in my head often when I hesitate to do something. My last post was about fear and how to use it to do new things and learn new ideas. That often means pulling the trigger and getting over the fear.

One of the most valuable principles of Judo is “consider fully; act decisively.” That’s the essence Hap is getting at with his students. It’s the same sentiment Yoda shares with young Luke Skywalker: “Do or do not; there is no try.” We cannot give a partial effort to do something and always expect great outcomes. If we do something to its fullest and the result is not what we wanted, at least we have answered the question of “what if.” We have learned and gained experience (knowledge + experience = wisdom).

How do we get over the trepidation of pulling the trigger or acting decisively? One suggestion is to “eat the frog.”

In all of his uncanny wit and sensibility, Mark Twain advised, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning, and if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first. “

We tend to let the “frogs” in our lives keep us from doing something. They are often the source of procrastination, hesitation, and fear. Twain’s point with the metaphor is to do the hard thing first. Get it out of the way early in the morning and the rest of the day will be easy.

How can we apply this to the martial arts? Maybe we can get off the couch and work toward losing those extra few pounds keeping us from our ideal weight class. It might be that we sign up for a tournament because we have never tested our skills in the arena. Perhaps we set about learning that last kata keeping us from earning our Shodan (ahem, this is for me).

One area that I have been hesitant to pull the trigger was leaving my comfort zone and starting my own martial arts studio. I have operated my program through a local non-profit for over four years. While it has been good for much of the time, we have outgrown our space and the capacity with which the organization can help. It was time for me to strike out on my own.

I had the want to do so a year ago, but I just couldn’t seem to pull that trigger. After a year of debate, hesitation, and fear, I ate the frog. My new studio, Redemption Martial Arts Academy, will open in August. It has been liberating knowing that whatever happens, I have done the hard part. Yes, there is construction to be done, money to be spent, and the business side of it to complete, but that first step is over.

If you have something holding you back from seeing your dreams become a reality, wake up in the morning, pull the trigger and eat that frog. You will be glad you did.