I was reading the book  “How to fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of Story of my Life”  a sort of self-help book by the creator of Dilbert, Scott Adams.

One of the chapters that inspired me was where he listed his biggest failures and what he learnt from them.

I did the same, what was intended to be a 800 word blog post turned into one of the most brutal exercises I have ever undertaken.

I went through the depths of my memory, bringing up some painful shit that I have suppressed and reflect on how I learned from them.  This resulted in creating enough content for seven blog articles.

This was one of the first that came to mind:

The Karate Instructor

As a fat kid Karate was a good activity to take up, it helped me lose weight and developed my confidence to help deal with all the vindictive little shits who are in the school system.

It soon became a hobby I invested more time in, going to extra training, reading and finding moments to look like a tit by practicing little movements in public places.

The dream went like this – I would become a black belt, travel to Japan, learn the language, train in one of those ‘hard’ dojos and start-up on my own when I got back to England.

I was so serious that when it came to go to University I saw a degree specialising in martial arts philosophy, thankfully I saw a sports business course, so my degree was not completely worthless.

As I was keen on progressing my interest,  my sensei (instructor) was keen to exploit… sorry I mean encourage my interest, by letting me train with the seniors.

This enabled me to get a ‘qualification’ to teach students despite not having a black belt.

For a while I was quite enchanted with the process, but then the harsh reality came through, the politics, the business and the students had to fuck things up, unfortunately those were the three key elements.

For anyone who does martial arts the politics are horrible, there is a lot of dick waving about who is the best and a lot of shitty instructors who have no business teaching (obviously I know this, because I was one).

I found the seniors class full of arrogant arseholes and because Karate is basically the martial arts equivalent of McDonalds, there were regional managers who were doing quite well out of the whole thing.

The scam…, sorry I mean the quality teaching went like this, the regional managers recruited volunteers to teach karate.  So although I felt like a fraud being a teacher without a black belt, I was shocked to find there were instructors who had never done karate in their lives picked to teach.

The club ran on volunteers, who collected class fees and handed the money to the regional managers.  It was important that the volunteers didn’t fuck up the figures,  as we couldn’t have the regional manager not afford to keep running his Ferrari.

The regional manager was such a sad insecure prick he even had his own Bullshido worthy story to make himself sound hard, where he was set on by five assailants, but he took them all out…  I’m sure he also fought crime at night on the streets of Gotham.

The story was set-up in a manner where each attacker came one by one, politely waiting for the other guy to be beaten up before having a go at the reincarnated Bruce Lee.

The story sounded more like a badly choreographed action film.

With the business and politics I was pretty down, but the students were really the shitty icing on a cake made of glass and AIDs infected needles.

The adults were okay, although they were rightfully cynical to a guy who was training with them one week and telling them what to do the next.

It was the kids that finished me off.  The harsh reality was that the kids made up the following:

  • The ones who had no interest being there, but were forced to do after school activities by pushy parents
  • Parents who saw it as a good way to discipline their ADD child – more benefit would be to have strict routines and a therapist – not prancing about a community centre breathing in an asthmatic manner
  • Single mothers who were bored with their favourite mistake, so would drop them off extra early for cheap babysitting while they tried to score some dick at the Dog and Duck pub down the road.

Of course I quit.  When I joined another martial arts club the students were a lot better, I was still quite arrogant and thought I was some hot shit martial artist – that is until I got injured by a student in my first sparing session.

This ended my Martial arts career and messed up my ability to do any cardio or weights involving my legs and I got fat again right at the time I was starting university.

I learnt a few things…

Goals are not final

This was my first dream,  and it was sad to see my dream disillusioned.  I got over it, my life moved onto other dreams.  I got over it as priorities changed.

Knowing whether we want to be something can only be done by doing it

If I had not done the instructing bit I may have continued as an enthusiastic student, gone to Japan, got my ass kicked there instead, being £1000’s down.  Instead I learnt how much I hated it by taking a risk.

Don’t trust others

From the Regional manager who deep down was only interested in numbers, to the black belts posturing and treating you like shit to look good, to my sensei, who was probably more interested in finding a sucker to take all the dysfunctional kids off his hands.

Therefore, don’t take people at face value, I thought I was honoured with a huge opportunity, but people really only do what is best for them.

Passion does not mean a good teacher

At that stage I lived for Karate, so when I took on those kids and they didn’t give a shit I hated myself for it.  I was only just past being a kid myself, so how the hell was I supposed to teach them my passion.

Research the quality

I was with that Karate organisation for five years.  I started when a guy came to my door to sell the product – I had just started to get into self-improvement so took it as a sign.

I didn’t read up what I had signed up for, I didn’t read up the clubs reputation, or how good my Sensei was.  Basically if the worst came to the worst, my confidence in the flimsy blocks against a knife attack would have left me dead.

So that was a big failure in my life.  Self-improvement isn’t easy, goals are not guaranteed to be achieved and although I try to sound like I have my life sorted – I am not infallible.


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