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3 Lessons I’ll Never Forget Facing 25 Black Belts in Karate!

One of my all time dreams since I was a kid was to do some type of martial arts. Growing up I was always a huge fan of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Jean Claude Van Damme and recently Tony Ja! WOW – now there’s a line up of some powerful people! So, what do all these guys have in common? Well, sure they are all amazing hollywood legends and made many block buster movies and they are all people you wouldn’t want to mess with! However, what unites them is their love and passion for martial arts – each having mastered various different disciplines and each having a degree of humbleness about them. I always dreamed one day I would do something like that (practice a martial art, not be a hollywood star!), however I never thought I’d have the opportunity until a couple of months ago…

I’ve been taking my 6 year old to do Karate, which he absolutely loves (I don’t blame him, cause I loved it too when I was 6!) and I’ve been watching him week in, week out as he’s pursuing a skill and passion that I once had (and still have)! A tiny voice kept whispering in my ear, “Why don’t you join him and do this for yourself? You’ve always wanted to, here’s your chance!”

So when I was politely asked by Kancho Roberts (founder and lead instructor of Shubi Chikara Karate) if I’d like to join in, I leapt at the opportunity. A rush of emotions filled me up…best summarised by “Oh my god, I’m actually going to do this!”

It didn’t hit me (no pun intended) until I finally put on my “gi” (uniform) and was actually standing in amongst a group of students (obviously I was a beginner with a white belt – ‘white’ signifying purity and innocence), however I noticed there were boys, girls, men and women – in fact all ages, shapes, sizes, backgrounds – all with various degrees of experience and different coloured belts – and thats when it occurred to me that I was part of a pretty special group of people who were all on the same journey as me, just that we all started at different times, yet we all came together to train each week.

The thing that struck me the most (I don’t mean that literally!) was that in a room of lets say 100 students, maybe more, there were at least 25 black belts present. Thats a quarter of the room! If you didn’t know, students with a black belt are called ‘Sensei’, which in its simplest form means ‘teacher’. Achieving black belt is a symbol of someone having spent years training in their martial art (in my case, Karate) and I thought it was pretty amazing to see so many black belts all around the room. Once I got over this, what then really surprised me was the humility and dedication these black belts showed week in and week out. For starters, they came on time, they trained just like everyone else and they practiced the basics just like someone starting off for the very first time as a white belt. I found this really inspiring that these guys (and girls) who’ve been training for years still had the same focus, energy and enthusiasm right throughout. It’s little wonder that they are black belts today and serve as inspiration for us beginners.

So pondering all this led me to 3 distinct learnings I’d like to share with you – that I know will have a positive impact in what you do on a day to day routine, regardless of what it is that you do. From a business perspective, this will be invaluable. So here they are…my top 3 learnings from facing 30 black belts in karate!

1. Show up and enthusiastic!

Whether you are going to a meeting, picking up your kids from school, attending a dinner invitation, going to a musical, etc. BE PUNCTUAL! Showing up is half the challenge for most people. The world is full of excuses and it may be raining, or you are feeling tired or lazy and have been procrastinating on getting a task done thats been on the shelf for ages. Just do it! If you have a meeting, a class, training, an appointment or any other commitment, then do your best to show up.

When you DO show up – SMILE and BE ENTHUSIASTIC! Be happy! People love to be around positive energy, so whatever it is that you do, wherever you turn up and present yourself – remember to put on your happy face! This is something I constantly come across every week at Karate and I love it!

2. Practice the fundamentals!

The one thing that became abundantly clear as I walked around the room and talked to many of the black belts was that they all believed in practicing the fundamentals on a regular basis. So even though these guys were super experienced in their profession, they showed up for training just like every one else, no excuses. I was highly impressed to see the commitment and dedication shown by these more experienced martial arts students. In fact, if we relate this to business, there are many fundamentals we need to always do, regardless of who we are, or what our role is.

As an example, for someone who’s been in sales, one of the fundamentals may be doing follow up calls or even cold calls when needed – and most people will tell you its their least favourite thing to do – but it’s critical and is a fundamental reason why some sales people are more successful than others. It’s because they practice the fundamentals whereas most others get complacent and lazy and their results are below where they should be. Just imagine if a builder began construction on your house without having done all the fundamental checks and due diligence with the architect, council, environmental bodies, etc. You get the picture!

3. Never quit!

Watching people in Karate train is a real eye opener for me! Everyone is in a different space because they have their own reasons for being there. However I noticed with the more senior grades and particularly the black belts, they stayed the course. Someone said to me a black belt is simply a white belt that never gave up! I really love this philosophy because it is so pertinent to business. All business owners face challenges and most will give up when things get tough. It’s a sad fact of life. The first hint of trouble and they’re gone!

Lets learn from these Sensei’s that are living proof that if you simply stay the course, you will achieve your goals and in business, its the same. If you stay the course, learn from your mistakes and practice getting better at what you do, then over time you will see results and you will move closer to achieving your goals. A fantastic reminder to never quit!

Have you had experience in martial arts, or some other discipline – what did you learn from your experience? Reply below to leave a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts, as your insights can help many others just like you. Best responses will get shared on our Facebook page. We look forward to hearing your feedback!

Gavin Sequeira is the author of the much acclaimed book ‘Break Free From Corporate’. Make sure you get your copy today to kickstart your transition from corporate and into your business. If you would like to contribute, please contact us through the “Contact” page and we look forward to connecting with you!