You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’
Imagine being slammed against a cage. No matter what you do… how well you cover, fists slip between your hands pounding your face. You throw a hook hoping to disrupt the assault, but you hit only air and leave an opening where you take another solid hit. The edge of a four-ounce glove opens a gash along you cheek bone. You hear groans. You know the groans are your mom, your wife, your best friend and the people who gave up their time to train you. Your corner is yelling advice that you try to follow but really all you can do is get hit again. Then everything goes black and you know nothing else until you’re with the ref and your opponent whose hand is raised high. The crowd cheers for him. Then you have to endure phrases like, “good try,” and “hey at least you got in there and did it. That’s more than I can say.” The truth is you lost. You failed.
One of the most important things a martial artist does in the dojo is fail. In the Life Skills from the Dojo blog post The Dojo – Our Quiet Little Koi Pond, we discuss the little failures that happen every time you step on the mat. They pave the way to long-term success like bricks laid one after the other – tapped into place so, in the end, they fit together perfectly forming a solid walkway. However, it is the big failures that define who we are. I wrote about my son failing his black belt test in Falling Down and Getting up. It was failing that test, picking himself up and doing what it took to pass it the next time, that taught him who he is. A gift is presented in these big failures, the gift of true confidence.