Only Two Mistakes on the Martial Way

Gina Carano posing
Gina Carano

There are only two mistakes one can make on the martial way: not starting, and not going all the way.

People make excuses for not starting:

“I can’t afford it right now.”
“My schedule is full.”
“I need to lose weight first.”
“I can’t find the style I like in my town.”
“I’ll be embarrassed because I’m clumsy and don’t know anything.”
“I don’t know anyone there.”
“What if I can’t keep up?”

There will always be reasons not to start! If you listen to those reasons, you’ll delay until you’re in a nursing home. You have to ignore that doubting inner voice, and just do it. Make time in your schedule by cutting back on non-essentials like television or Facebook. Don’t worry about your weight or keeping up. Do your best. Though you may not know anyone, you’ll make friends. If you don’t find your chosen style, study a related style. Different styles build different skills, and often complement each other. Do it.

As for not going all the way, here are the reasons I hear most often when people quit:

1. “I’m having difficulties in life.” – Without minimizing what you are going through, understand that life by nature is a series of challenges. You enjoy a period of ease, then another problem hits. If you allow these to derail you from your ambitions, you’ll never move forward. Keep on training. Think of it as a momentary oasis where you can forget the problems of life for an hour or two. It’s well known that exercise is an antidote to stress.

2. “I can’t afford it.” – A good instructor will work with you on this. Don’t sign up at a place that makes you sign a yearly or multi-year contract.

3. “I’m injured.” – This is valid, obviously, but keep in mind that a good instructor can often find ways for you to work around an injury. If you have a wrist injury, for example, it could be an opportunity to learn some one-handed techniques. Remember also that regular training builds a strong body and keeps you healthy over the long term.

4. “I’m tired of it. I’m worn out.” – You’re over training. Cut back to once a week. Let your body rest and your mind rejuvenate. See for yourself if the desire to train doesn’t come roaring back.

5. “I got my black belt, that’s all I need.” – A first degree black belt is an accomplishment, but it’s not time to quit! You have only built a foundation. The best is still to come.

6. “I got my second degree black belt, that’s good enough.” – You’re just getting into the meat of the art. Keep going.

7. “I’m a master now.” – Actually I have never heard this last excuse, ha ha, because someone who reaches this level understands that the martial way is a life long path. A master does not quit – instead she shares her knowledge with those who are coming up, and strives to advance the art as a whole.

What does the woman in the photo have to do with all this? Nothing. I’m just a huge Gina Carano fan. And hey – she didn’t get where she is by quitting. Maybe we can’t all be Gina Caranos, but we can walk the path to our own dreams. Only two mistakes, remember? Not starting, and not going all the way.

Wael Abdelgawad, Founder
Hammerhead Hapkido


  1. Radha shyamangini March 25, 2017 at 7:24 am

    I really want to learn martial arts…i can’t explain how much…but don’t know how.

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