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Failure Is Not An Option – It Is A Requirement

We are in a time where everyone gets a trophy just for showing up. Where everyone has the ability to spout whatever he or she want about a subject whether they are qualified to or not. Where parents yell at teachers because their child didn’t get an A+ for C- work. Where people want only success handed to them because they are special just like everyone else. They are afraid to fail. But without failure there is no real success.

This is from a couple of books I’m reading about the scientific process:

Modern science involves the idiosyncratic, often bumbling search for understanding in uncharted territories, full of wrong turns, false findings, and the occasional remarkable success. The scientific enterprise is riddled with mistakes and errors – and this is a good thing! The origins of scientific research are a process that relies upon trial and error, one, which inevitably results in a hefty dose of failure. In fact, scientists throughout history have relied on failure to guide their research, viewing mistakes as a necessary part of the process.

Most of us have a false impression of science as a surefire, deliberate, step-by-step method for finding things out and getting things done. The process is more hit-or-miss than you might imagine, with much stumbling and groping after phantoms. But it is exactly this “not knowing,” this puzzling over thorny questions or inexplicable data, that gets researchers into the lab early and keeps them there late, the thing that propels them, the very driving force of science.

What does this have to do with martial arts? It is my belief that to be a martial artist you must first be a martial scientist, which means treating your training like scientific research, complete with mistakes, errors and failure.

Too many practitioners collect techniques learning only the movements at the surface without ever going deep into the principles within. They get their belts and think I know this. They are afraid of saying, “I don’t know”, they are afraid of failure.

However discovery, learning, and progress begin with the simple statement of, “I don’t know”. From there, you experiment, bumble into uncharted territories, full of wrong turns, false findings, and the occasional remarkable success. Like the scientist it is the “not knowing” that keeps you going, year after year, decade after decade puzzling over the concepts and questions hidden inside the next technique.

Do not fear failure, embrace it, use it, let it motivate you to the success you seek.

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