Romans 12:3

promised back when I started this blog that I’d remain transparent about my struggles as a Christian and martial artist. Since then most of my content has been about discovering a Christian Zen but today's post is rooted more in my activities as a martial artist than in my faith. Nevertheless, it remains applicable in both contexts.

It started last week.

It was my usual Friday evening kickboxing class and I was having a rough night - one of those days where nothing was going right. My jabs were sluggish and weak, my hooks executed poorly and my cross-punch so badly telegraphed my opponent could have ordered a pizza before deciding how to handle it. On one occasion I actually ducked and weaved into a hook punch rather than under it and I paid the price with a minor concussion headache by the end of the evening. I left the dojo profoundly discouraged and glad that I had the weekend to heal before Monday.

My kickboxing skill level

What happened? How can it be that I suck so badly when just the week before my sparring in ninjutsu class was so good I caused the brown belt to think twice? What went wrong?

So I asked Sensei who, apart from assuring me that we've all been there at some point in our martial journey also reminded me that my studies in the martial arts have focused primarily on ninjutsu where I’ve grown accustom to having at my disposal a repertoire of moves considered illegal in the sport of kickboxing. You see - in ninjutsu - when my opponent throws a punch I have the option of grabbing it and reminding him why giving me his arm might be a bad idea - an option not available to me in kickboxing. In fact most of the techniques I’m good at rely on my ability to perform takedowns where I can bring the fight to a place where it becomes less about twitch reflexes and more about sustained power and explosive output. Quite simply, skill in one martial discipline doesn’t automatically translate into skill in another.

My ninjutsu explosive output

It’s the kind of thing you know in your head until it gets beaten into your heart.

So I spent this week asking myself some questions and taking stock of who and how I am as a martial artist. In the end I decided that while I will continue with kickboxing, that I do so as an exercise in building up my weakest skillset and that I can expect to have many more nights of getting knocked around. Kickboxing may never be my "game". Also reinforced was the importance of humility - especially when it comes to expectations of my own performance.

It seems that it doesn’t matter how old or mature you are... sometimes life is about those simple, timeless lessons.

~ Sven