Happiness and Self-Discipline

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. - Henry Ward Beecher

I vividly remember my first class of Taekwondo. I remember the feeling of anxiety and excitement of being in a new group, my floppy white uniform, while the blackbelts had their sharp pressed uniforms, the comraderey of the students as we lined up and started the warmup, and the feeling that I was going to throw up or pass out after the first 5 mins of class. 😂 After the warm up and stretches we were split up to focus on our, "Hyung" or "Forms." I was pulled aside my one of the assistant instructors and I was taught four basic stances. I was told to count through the steps and continue to practice over and over and over again. At first any movement and instruction were exciting. but then came the repetition. As I looked around the room, I watched the students practicing all of their sweet moves and I was immediately jealous that I was focusing on moving my feet and holding the same stance over and over again. I followed instruction and continued to focus on the basic stance movements.

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Self-discipline is a quality that is won through practice. - John C. Maxwell

Years later I am rewarded for the work into that moment. My self-discipline in practice is very focused and my martial arts abilities have been elevated because of the wide base that was built on attention to basics. The problem for most people is that practicing basics requires the repetition of movement. The more repetition, focus, and time you give the better your basics will get. As I continued on in my Taekwondo career I had a night that I showed up for class and I was the only student. My instructor at the time gave me an hour long lesson on the sidekick and the movements needed to develop flexibility, strength, and speed of this kick. Of course I wanted the secret to developing the kick. I wanted to rush home and buy something that would magically give me the flexibility and high kicks that he had. At the end of the class he told his secret for high sidekicks.

Sidekick Nightly Practice - 5 nights a week

-75 Slow sidekicks over a chair If you touch the chair, kick doesn't count.

-Sit down and practice foot shaping - Holding for 1min at time.


I started that night! After the first night I was sore. After day 2 I felt like my legs were going to snap like a Slim Jim.😩 The first week ended and I was walking like a bull rider that had the ride of his life. I continued this weekly practice for a long time. The soreness would come and I would modify the workout over time to focus on what I needed to improve in my sidekick. It took years before I had a breakthrough moment.

One night in class I was sparring and without thinking I threw a front leg sidekick to my opponents chest, stopping their forward motion. This moment is a highlight of my martial arts career. It stands out as a reward in my mind. A trophy of a goal achieved. It took me years to develop that kick and be able to use it on a high level. I did not get to that point with fancy movements or excercise routines, I achieved that goal through basics, repetition, and resistance.