Guest Post: Letting Go of Distractions to Simply Do What You Love

distractions martial arts passion

Over the summer, I was at coach training in Asia and committed to one month of CrossFit. The people and scene were lovely but honestly, a little boring. There is a different vibe in a dojo, a different level of respect and comradeship that doesn't exist in gyms. That's partly why I train. There's also the tradition and layer after layer of depth from the physical to mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of training. That's the other reason I train. Ultimately, it's not about the belt.

Finally, I get it. How could I doubt my teacher's 3 decades worth of experience? Now I no longer have the 4hr drive and have time to do shorter workouts at home (using alot of what I learned from cross fit and PT - it was useful) and focus on Karate fitness training. We train on the beach twice a week to strengthen our muscles and I meditate and jump rope more for a clearer mind, which helps with reflexes and explosive speed.

Sometimes, we train in unconventional ways that you would never see in a gym. For example, in the dojo we often wear blindfolds for kata practice. By taking out our sight we are tested on how deeply the kata lives inside of us. At the beach, we also do push ups, sit-ups and V-ups under water. These aren't so much for muscle training but rather for our minds. It is pitch black and water is gushing from all directions. Such exercises help us to respond more effectively to situations outside the dojo.

The result? I'm happy, centred, and clear on who I am.

When we're martial artists, we take that into all we do. We're strategists and visionaries. I've noticed that our brains and bodies work quicker and more creatively than most people. It took me years to really get this. For over a decade, I worked as a humanitarian in conflict areas. There, I turned to my martial arts lessons and values to get me through some pretty tough situations in prisons and refugee camps. I didn't realize it at the time though, I simply acted by instinct.

Being a martial artist requires finding a way to live the lifestyle from within. It means trusting the teachers who have walked before us while staying open to - and questioning or adapting - new training methods. Being a martial artist gives life meaning and purpose and that is why straight up fitness goals don't work for me. They don't motivate me, but practicing the same kata hundreds of times over does. I've found this to be true for others, especially those who started training as kids. Our bodies and brains are simply wired for more.

It's hard to explain all this to someone who isn't committed to martial arts. I sometimes feel like an elitist saying her way is better. That isn't what I mean at all. We all draw purpose and meaning in life from different places. Some of the crossfitters I met were passionate about food and the mechanics of movement. They were changing lives through their art and experience. Besides, Karate isn't the only martial art!

It's been a long journey with many lessons. At 35, my training looks very different from when I was 20. I've had to accept I'm stronger in places and weaker in others. I've become less fearful, less arrogant, more willing to listen, and more curious.

My Sensei believes that 35-50 is the golden phase for martial artists. This is when our training really begins to make sense. In the dojo, our journey never ends and this is ultimately why I still train.

Claire is a Transformational & Life Coach, Black Belt Martial Artist and Restorative Yoga Teacher. Her mission is to make the world a better place through coaching others to lead happier and more fulfilling lives. She also loves coffee, culture, politics and art, and can often be found painting Arabic calligraphy well into the twilight hours!


Where are you getting distracted from your true passion?

If you have a story you'd like to share, please feel free to email me at khaled (dot) allen (at) gmail (dot) com.