Junior Student’s Corner
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford
If you’ve been training Kung Fu for any length of time, you’ve no doubt come to realize that failure is a large part of the process. Yes, it’s sad but true that you’re simply not going to be successful all of the time. Unfortunately it’s easy to get down on yourself when you fail at something, especially when you’re young. Whether it be trying a new kick, getting through a board during the breaking seminar, learning some new moves out of a form, or even just doing well in a round of sparring, you’re bound to feel disheartened when things don’t go your way. But the truth is you should try to learn to embrace failure—because it teaches you a lot more than success does.
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces people into thinking they can’t lose.” ~ Bill Gates
The way to learn from failure is to figure out why you weren’t successful. If you weren’t able to punch through a board, it’s likely there was a problem with your technique. If you didn’t do well during a round of sparring, maybe you let your guard down? Perhaps you were too ambitious on the offensive side of things and forgot about the importance of defense? Or vice versa? The bottom line is, try to determine what went wrong—and then vow to never make the same mistake again.
Failure is such an integral part of success that they could be considered two sides of the same coin. Or, in a more traditionally Chinese sense, you could say they have a yin-yang relationship.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~ Thomas Edison
Kung Fu comes to us via centuries of evolution. But that’s not its greatest instructive value. Nor is the person standing at the front of the room. Your own personal experiences are your greatest teacher—and you should always remember that each failure brings you closer to success. Indeed, failure gives you the opportunity to identify your weaknesses so that you can then work to eliminate them.
A great example comes from none other than Bruce Lee. He was so disappointed in himself after a particular fight (a fight he actually won, though it took him longer than he would have liked) that he set himself on the path destined to make him the greatest martial artist of all time.
Of course the larger message is that failure, and growth from failure, are not just parts of Kung Fu, but are key components of life in general.
In conclusion, I’ll leave you with some words from the Chinese philosopher Confucius:
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Happy failing, everyone!