Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.
Internally develop the Qi (life energy); externally train the tendons, bones and muscles.
— Training maxim from the Siu Lim Tao (“Little Idea”) form of Wing Chun Kung Fu
The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.
— Douglas MacArthur
Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.
— Mary Anne Radmacher
Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.
— Christian D. Larson
At the beginning, 200+ days ago, I visualized and held onto a very specific goal. One that I knew would not be particularly easy and maybe not completely realistic, but one that would define a milestone in my martial arts career. To achieve it, I knew that I would have to be fit, focused and fearless.
I wish I could tell you that I cut easily through every challenge, lived each of the words that I’ve written here, and effortlessly achieved my goal. But it didn’t happen that way. The skill level of the people that I met and trained with was so high that I began to doubt my own abilities, and I felt my resolve slip.
Saturday night I went back to the hotel room all taped up and iced down and looked back over the words that had inspired me and motivated me. Then I got that one long-distance phone call from my best friend that completely eliminated any thought of backing down. She told me to come back with that new belt or not bother coming home at all.
Harsh. It was that scene from 300 where Gorgo calls after Leonidas: “Spartan, come back with your shield, or on it.” Only without the cool red cape.
With the option to quit completely eliminated, everything else was easy. Sunday afternoon I hit the mats with bruised ribs, a bandaged knee, taped toes and an opponent that outweighed me by 40 pounds. And in the presence of my jiu-jitsu heroes, I earned that belt.
Goal visualized. Goal pursued. Goal achieved.
Thanks for following along on this journey. I hope that you, too, set important goals, go after them with every fiber of your being, and know the feeling of reaching them. But it doesn’t stop there. That’s just one step. Time for the next.
Where will your path lead you?
200 days. 200 daily decision points to either give up or to keep going. 200 opportunities to think about what’s really important, to set priorities, to focus and to put in the effort.
I mapped out this project in late October of last year, and uploaded the first poster on November 1st. The idea was simple: a 200-day challenge to cultivate a fit body, a focused mind and a fearless spirit. “Challenge” was definitely the right word choice, as Life proceeded to offer me every excuse to back down, walk away and take the easy way out.
Injuries gave me the reason to stop pushing my physical limits, but I opted to find new, differently challenging ways to continue. The chaotic demands of modern life sometimes threatened to shred any thoughts of “focus” to the four winds, but in every single day I was given the chance to breathe, reflect and connect. And the universe, with a logic and wisdom I’ll never understand, delivered hurdles of hatred, prejudice and hostile opposition to allow me to sharpen the sword of my soul.
I’ve drawn inspiration from the words and teachings of people spread across the expanse of this world and across gulfs of time, from song lyrics to sacred texts. And I have learned a lot.
One of the most important lessons for me was to stop thinking of this as “hard work.” I had always translated the word, “Kung Fu,” as as “skill gained from hard work.” I now know that this is neither “hard” nor “work.” Instead, I now think of this as “serious play.”
I’m at the end of my countdown, and am signing off now to immerse myself in the forge of a martial arts training camp in Florida. In a few days, the sun will set in a glorious “Ring of Fire” eclipse that will also mark the end of this bit of training. I have no idea what to expect on the other side of that sunset, but I will be ready for whatever it is.
I will walk that path when I come to it.
It is amazing how much crisper the general experience of life becomes when your body is given a chance to develop a little strength.
— Frank Duff
The undisturbed mind is like the calm body water reflecting the brilliance of the moon. Empty the mind and you will realize the undisturbed mind.
— Yagyu Jubei
Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.
— Denis Waitley
Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.
— Virginia Satir