Dec
16

My Tae Kwon Do Black Belt and the Zen of Success

Fellow Business-Builder,

My name is Troy, and I’m a junkie… a martial arts junkie.

In the past 11 years of my life, I have been involved in one form of martial arts or another. From the year of Karate I took in ’96 when living in Dallas… to the 5 years of Kickboxing and Muay Thai when back in Calgary.

Last Saturday, I passed my first Dan Black Belt test in Tae Kwon Do.

My first Black Belt at 42 years old… exactly 26 years older than the eldest of my co-testers. There were 8 of us testing, and everyone was 16 years and younger (two of them were 10…getting their black belt!).

Me and my daughters waiting for the 'òld guy' to finish the Black Belt Test

Me and my daughters waiting for the 'òld guy' to finish the Black Belt Test

There are sometimes fast track systems that get you the ‘same’ end result.

Some schools I have seen say you can get a Black Belt in a couple years. Intensive training they say is the key. The training part most definitely true. (you can also buy a Black Belt online for $40 without any testing, just saying)

But getting a Black Belt in 2 or 3 years is not similar to training just as hard, but taking 4 or 5 years of training to test for Black.

Some schools pride themselves in putting out as many Black Belts as they can, others pride themselves in putting out far fewer, but more disciplined. I have been in all 3 environments: The Karate school offered a 2 yr Black Belt option. The Muay Thai school rarely tested at all – in 5 yrs I only tested a few times.

Yu’s Tae Kwon Do where I train?

– 4.5 years of membership
– 3-5 days a week consistent training
– 10 individual tests for different belts
– over $6,500 invested in tuition, testing, sparring gear, uniforms and shoes

For the Black Belt test I just passed, I had to:

* Know intimately the 8 different Poomse (patterns) that signify the level of training you are at – each pattern has 18-22 or more moves

* Know 70+ Korean words

* Do a one-page written exam on my experiences in Tae Kwon Do and what the sport means and philosophies are

* Be able to perform the 30 different self defence moves, and the 8 different one-step sparring moves

* Break a 2″ brick with my hand (ouch)

* Do a flying side kick over the backs of 3 people squatting down and break a board at the other end (for a guy my size!)

I did it.

I loved it.

But I learned a LOT about success during my martial arts training.

It is as appropriate in business as it is in martial arts:

1. The #1 reason why people don’t succeed? Lack of commitment. It’s that simple. I saw lots of people come and go throughout the past 4 years… very, very few of them stuck around. Most tried it out for a month or two and moved on. And yet, Grand Master Yu, the owner of the Dojang I train at… is testing for his 9th degree Black Belt this week. It has taken him 4 decades to get this level. He was one of the referees at the 2008 Bejing Olympics and is highly respected in the World Tae Kwon Do Foundation. Now THAT is commitment. Much like the masters who share their wisdom here, Clayton Makepeace, Drayton Bird, Gary Bencivenga… collectively, their commitment to the craft of writing is well over a century! Master James Yu, Grand Master Yu’s son, and my main teacher, has won well over 100 medals in his celebrated career as a lifetime Tae Kwon Do expert. At 26 years of age, he has attained his 5th degree Black Belt, and has remained committed to the sport for almost his entire life. Again, serious commitment to a lifetime of learning.

2. Success is a solo act. Through thick and thin – injury and laziness – good times and bad, you have to show up and do what needs to be done. I have broken bones, pulled far more muscles, felt like crap but kept on going to class and working out. 75% of the time I train… I am the ONLY one who shows up for class (which is why I LOVE going during the lunch hours… it’s like private lessons as I’m the only one there!). You need to just know when a good job happened, without need for external validation from someone else saying “good job”.

3. It’s very much about the basics. Without absolute mastery of those, it is impossible to become more advanced. And yet most people won’t even give the basics a chance. They get bored, or anxious, or just lazy. They want to try something new, yet haven’t even come to a remote understanding of the most basic of lessons. It’s about doing the same thing 1,000 times, maybe 10,000 – only then does it start to truly feel natural. Let me repeat that because this is a BIG one that most people don’t get: it is IMPOSSIBLE to master the advanced techniques if you don’t master the basics first. You can try, but only end up with a giant mess that definitely isn’t advanced, nor is it even good enough to be considered basic.

4. Those who are more experienced DO deserve more respect than others. They have been where you are, failed far more times than you have, and have put in far more hours mastering their craft – they deserve respect from you, or you don’t deserve to play the game. There is a good reason colored belts bow to the Black Belts in martial arts.

5. When breaking the brick you have to be hitting through the bricknot at it. Go bigger than what you would think. When breaking 2 or 4 bricks, you don’t aim for breaking the top brick, you aim for breaking the bottom brick. Unless you hit it right where you want it, it won’t break. There was a little guy testing on Saturday, 10 years old and the physical size of a 7 yr old, who couldn’t break the board with his hand. He kept whacking that thing over 10 times. Finally, it broke. Sometimes it takes 10 good solid whacks at it to get scared or pissed off enough to break the damn thing.

6. It’s never too late. Look, if a 42 yr old, grey-haired guy like me can outshine all the young ones not committed enough to stick with their training long enough… what can you do? I have no plans on stopping, and will continue on through the more advanced levels of Black Belts, at least until my body screams at me ‘enough!’.

7. Learn to LOVE that adrenaline rush. Sometimes you get it from a great workout. Other times it is when you knock off your best sales letter yet. Get in tune with the feeling you get when in the ‘flow’ and constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to get that feeling back.

8. A Black Belt is NOT the end goal! I was amazed at how many people I talk to ask what I am going to do next, now that I have a Black Belt. As if I am supposed to stop and move on to something else. Sadly, half the kids testing for Black were quitting and going on to something else. Me? I see the Black Belt as one step in an ongoing experience. Next goal is second Dan Black Belt. Then third. Etc. Don’t quit after you reach a milestone – get moving faster!

I have been looking forward to writing this article for some time. Realizing it isn’t all about marketing and sales copy… but it is about reaching higher and higher and constantly pushing yourself to greater levels of success.

We have a New Year almost upon us… and there has never been a better time for you and I to think bigger and do more grandiose things in our lives or businesses.

Hoping my bumps, bruises and pulled muscles have a few things to share about reaching the next level of success.

I am not stopping here… I hope you aren’t either.

To your next level of success,

Troy

PS: I have just wrapped up the 2011 Cash Flow Calendar. This is the 4th year with this marketing plan gem. Stuck on what or how to market yourself? Not sure what to blog about? Need something funny to post as a Tweet or FB update? The 2011 Cash Flow Calendar is the perfect marketing plan for those who need new ideas and want help implementing them. PACKED with well over 1,200 marketing ideas to keep you busy for the next year. Have a look for yourself – the 2011 Cash Flow Calendar and Marketing Plan

PPS: This was originally written for Clayton Makepaces Total Package blog.

PPPS: Are you in Calgary? Near the south end of town? If you are interested in starting your new year off with a new, hot and fresh workout with me at Yus… let me know!

Comments

  1. Congratulations seems like such a small word for what you have accomplished. What a great role model for your daughters and other business owners like me .

  2. Business is also very much about the basics., despite lots of apparently mysterious jargon. Business owners frequently get so caught up in the jargon and technicalities that they forget this. We all need to be reminded of this, and also need to constantly remind ourselves to question how our businesses are doing on the basics. Forget this and the rest doesn’t matter.

    Congratulations on your black belt.

  3. Thank you Kimberly and Martin.

    A big part driving me forward is, of course, to show my daughters what happens when you stick with something and practice hard.

    They have seen me nursing my wounds with ice packs and heating pads (yes, the ole guy here considers ice and heat an absolute necessity).

    They see me going to classes. They know I am constantly sparring with teenagers, and feeling the pain.

    Now they see me getting that Black Belt. I know how much of an impact this has made – and I will continue to show them the power of persistence.

    Hopefully it rubs off and they consider persistence one of their greatest skills to develop.

    Thanks again. Troy

  4. I really like this, I have found that the main reason people don’t get where they want is because there is a fundamental lack of focus, what your black belt experience is telling us is that to be successful in that realm (or any) you have to make some major sacrifices. Congrats
    Peterson Nesbit

  5. Hi Troy –
    What a great story – and congratulations on your first black belt!
    Wishing you and your family and wonderful Christmas & holiday
    season.
    Robin

  6. Business is also very much about the basics., despite lots of apparently mysterious jargon. Business owners frequently get so caught up in the jargon and technicalities that they forget this. We all need to be reminded of this, and also need to constantly remind ourselves to question how our businesses are doing on the basics. Forget this and the rest doesn’t matter. Congratulations on your black belt.

  7. Congratulations seems like such a small word for what you have accomplished. What a great role model for your daughters and other business owners like me .

  8. Hi Troy – What a great story – and congratulations on your first black belt! Wishing you and your family and wonderful Christmas & holiday season. Robin

  9. I really like this, I have found that the main reason people don’t get where they want is because there is a fundamental lack of focus, what your black belt experience is telling us is that to be successful in that realm (or any) you have to make some major sacrifices. Congrats Peterson Nesbit

  10. it is such a beautiful, informative artical and very true from a man saying his heart. i am too late to write but i just got and this artical moved me to write back.

    i am 46 years old man, got my 1st Dan in 1986, then my 2ed Dan in 1988. i travelled for studying then involved in working and business, i left the game for almost 25 years. I love the game and descided to go for the 3ed Dan in 2013. here Iam struggling with my body reactiona and limitations, i am so determined to reach it and almost there. In March this year I going to be tested for Poomsae 11
    when I am in the class all the people around me including the coach are my son age!!

    It’s nice to share this artical and feel good about it. Thank you Troy for this inspiring email. I undeersatnd to the core where are you coming from and what are talking about that your sentences talking more that what they mean.

    Thank you Troy
    keep the spirit

    Emad
    UAE

  11. Thank you Emad. It is great to hear from you and I am glad you enjoyed my article.

    Congrats to you for getting back in there and testing for 3rd Dan!

    I know where I train, I am an old guy there… and I am 44 years old.

    But it doesn’t deter me – it motivates me.

    The body hurts more, heals slower… but I honestly think the enjoyment too is higher the ‘wiser’ you are.

    Keep up your training and thank you for your comments.

    Troy

Trackbacks

  1. […] PS: I also wrote and article about my experiences getting my black belt in Tae Kwon Do and you can read that article here (some great business lessons to be learned! this is also the reason for my Marketing Dojang […]

  2. […] stretching is good. Its one of the big reason I am so active in martial arts! Stretching yourself regularly makes it very easy to adapt to change, to be quick on the draw, and […]

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