Things Kickboxing taught me about Life

October 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have been interested in martial arts since childhood but my journey into practicing martial arts started recently. I used to watch Asian martial art movies when a was little with my dad every friday ritualistically. It is amazing to see those guys do nearly impossible things. With a stroke of good fortune for my first job I moved to a city where I found a club with a great program. The first day I walked in, I was so fascinated with everything from punching bags, people sparring, even the humid sweaty atmosphere. It’s been around 3 years since that day and leaving aside improving my physical being kickboxing have improved me in numerous other ways.

1. Learn to get up
As a beginner I spent quite a lot of time on the floor. Be it taken down by my sparring partner or falling down on my own when trying to do a complicated maneuver. But what matters is where you go from there. You can stay down and pity yourself or simply dust off and try again. Just a simple act of getting back on your feet every time you fall provides a great psychological boost. Now with every setback I face it is becoming easier for me to brush it off and get back on track. Be it my work, relationships, personal goals I am able to get over it much faster and start anew. It is exactly what Alfred says to Bruce

Why do we fall master Wayne? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.

2. You are not as bad-a** as you might think
Humility is a great trait but I couldn’t have learnt it in a better way. I thought myself to be in a decent shape being a regular to the gym apart from being a runner. It only took 35 minutes in my first fighter fitness session to make me crawl to the water fountain gasping for air trying to stay alive. Also nothing re-calibrates your worth like getting s*** kicked out by a guy 5 inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter. Be proud not arrogant.

3. Pain is temporal
It is perhaps the greatest paradox in the world that pain and struggle helps us get better but its human nature to avoid them both. Almost every example of achievement in human history starts with us overcoming adversity. Before my first full contact sparring the ring seemed like a really scary place. The first time I sparred were one of the longest 3 minutes of my life. I was more gassed out in 3 minutes than I would normally be in a 40 minute cardio session. For the first couple of weeks I dreaded the sparring session because I would return all bruised and beat up. But soon I realized that it was more in my mind. My body could handle the punishment but it was mind which made it 10 times harder. Your mind creates demons for you to fight. Learn to recognize and fight your fears.

4. Control your emotions
When in a crunch situation most people falter not because they don’t know how to handle the external factors but more likely cause they don’t know how to handle their own emotions. Any unknown situation makes us uncomfortable. There are a myriad of emotions in our mind ranging from fear to anxiety to sometimes anger. I have never been in a professional fight or in an uncontrolled street brawl. I am sure the dynamics there are at a totally different level but even a controlled sparring session forces you to control your emotions and learn to think clearly under pressure. It always surprised me to find that the best fighters in the ring were always the coolest people outside it. Nothing seems to ever break their composure. Kickboxing has taught me to reign in my emotion and not let me be controlled by them. When you learn to control your emotions it shows in every aspect of your life.

5. Self-Awareness
I am surprised with the level of physical fitness I have achieved in the last few years. There is still a long way to go but I am sometimes amazed at the things I am able to do which I couldn’t even have thought before. This in turn fuels my self-confidence which shows in any task I take on. I used to start something new with dread before. Now it seems like an opportunity. Failure doesn’t haunt me anymore.

6. Keep it simple
We all keep making our life complicated by trying to control things which we can’t. Trying to fill our lives with unnecessary things and people. During a sparring session 90% of times we use the same basic 3 punches and 3 kicks. Our coach always says you don’t need any fancy stuff to be a good fighter and that is true for everything else too. Don’t try to go after everything. Focus on simple tasks but be really good at them.

7. Feel like a Man
A simple definition of a man is someone who in the face of adversity can still function with honor and dignity. All the above somehow or the other contribute in creating a persona of a man I would like to become some day. As the saying goes,

You can be born as a woman but you have to “become” a man

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